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Azerbaijani Blogger's Lawyer Questions Judges' Objectivity

Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada in detention in October
BAKU -- The attorney for arrested Azerbaijani blogger Adnan Hajizada has requested that new judges be named to preside over his client's appeal in a Baku court, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Lawyer Isaxan Asurov said in court on February 17 that he is "suspicious about the fairness of the judges," because the same judges "rejected our appeal about violence against the bloggers at the police station on the day of their arrest."

Hajizada was arrested with fellow blogger Emin Milli on July 8 after a scuffle at a restaurant in the center of Baku. They were charged with hooliganism, found guilty, and sentenced to two and 2 1/2 years in prison, respectively.

Rights groups say the charges against the two bloggers are politically motivated and aimed at stifling opposition voices in Azerbaijan.

In the Baku appeals court, judges ordered the hearing for Hajizada and Milli to be postponed until March 3 to give the court chairman time to consider Asurov's request.

Consideration of the appeal has already been postponed four times due to the absence of either lawyers or witnesses, or heavy snowfall.