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Azerbaijan Court Rejects Lawsuit By President's Uncle Against Journalists

BAKU -- A Baku court has rejected a libel lawsuit by President Ilham Aliyev's uncle against opposition journalists, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Jalal Aliyev, an academic and parliament member, accused "Yeni Musavat" editor in chief Azer Aykhan and correspondent Qoshqar Aliyev of libel on February 2 for publishing an article claiming that Aliyev owns several unfinished buildings in Baku, and that no one complains about the buildings’ condition because he is the president's uncle.

Jalal Aliyev, 82, said the report is false and that he was offended by it. He is demanding that the two journalists be arrested.

Elchin Sadiqov, a lawyer for the journalists, told the court on February 10 that Aliyev's case should be rejected.

It's the second time a court has dismissed a lawsuit by Jalal Aliyev against journalists.

Azerbaijani and international media groups are calling for a defamation bill to be adopted in order to prevent more journalists from being charged with libel for writing articles deemed critical by authorities.

There are currently two newspaper editors in jail for writing articles that were critical of officials.

But members of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party have said the country is not ready for such a bill and that Azerbaijan should not adopt legislation simply because it exists in Western Europe.