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Defendants Testify In Azerbaijan Mass Murder Trial

BAKU -- Baku's Serious Crimes Court has heard testimony from four men accused of abetting Farda Gadirov, the gunman who shot and killed 12 people at Baku's Oil Academy in April 2009, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The defendants -- Javidan Amirov, Nadir Aliyev, Arif Qabulov, and Nacaf Suleymanov -- are charged with terrorism, preparing intentional murder, and illegal possession of arms and drugs.

They have retracted their earlier confessions of guilt, which they say were made under torture.

Aliyev told the court on July 15 that he was hung upside down naked and that electric shocks were applied to his genitals. But the court claimed that doctors who examined the four men found no evidence of torture.

Judge Ramella Allahverdiyeva told the court that Gadirov's father refuses to travel to Baku to give evidence. The Azerbaijani authorities have requested his extradition from Russia but have not received any response to that request.

Amirov's lawyer, Huseynkhan Mustafayev, demanded that the court launch a separate investigation into the role of Mardun Qumasyan, an Armenian identified during the pretrial investigation as having financed the multiple killings. Mustafayev said Interpol informed him that no warrant has been issued for Qumasyan.

Mustafayev also demanded the court interrogate the customs and border service officers who were on duty the day Gadirov transported guns across the Georgian-Azerbaijani border, including the weapon used in the killings.

State prosecutor Abdulla Yusifov described both of Mustafayev's requests as groundless.

Gadirov, a Georgian citizen of Azerbaijani origin, killed himself when police attempted to arrest him.