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Azerbaijan: Mothers Of Jailed Troops Rally

Baku, 16 September 1996 (RFE/RL) - A group called "Voice of Mothers," representing mothers of the members of special police troops (OMON) detained during a failed coup in March 1995, staged a demonstration Friday at the office of President Heydar Aliyev in Baku.

The group demanded a meeting with Aliyev to ask him to pardon their sons. Group representatives say many of those detained are ill.

A member of the Supreme Court's military tribunal told RFE/RL that the exact number of those arrested during events in March 1995 is not known. But he said that about 150 OMON members have been sentenced and about 50 still face trial. All are accused of treason.

The "Mothers'" group rejects the charges. The group has also demonstrated at parliament. Today, organizers threatened a hunger strike if their demand to meet the president is not met.

Azerbaijan's Supreme Court this month sentenced two people who participated in the 1995 coup attempt to long prison terms. At least 50 people were killed in the incident.

One of those sentenced was an associate of Azerbaijan's former president, Ayaz Mutalibov, who fled to Moscow in 1992, and whom Aliyev has often accused of trying to assassinate him.