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Azerbaijani Youth Leaders' Trial Date Set

(RFE/RL) 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.