March 31, 2006 -- An Azerbaijani judge today ruled that the trial of three opposition youth activists accused of plotting against the government will open on April 5 in Baku.
Judge Tofiq Pasayev also ruled that the hearings will be held behind closed doors, officially to protect the safety of witnesses.
The three activists belong to Yeni Fikir (New Thinking), a youth movement close to the opposition Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan.
Ruslan Basirli, Said Nuriyev, and Ramin Tagiev were arrested in the run-up to the November 2005 legislative polls. They were charged with receiving foreign funds to overthrow the government.
All three deny the accusations, which they say are fabricated.
The New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch today called on Azerbaijani authorities to ensure the three get a fair trial.