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European Court Finds Azerbaijan Guilty Of Election Fraud

Azerbaijan has been criticized by the international community for its poor voting record
BAKU -- The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has issued its first ruling on a complaint about election fraud in Azerbaijan and found the government guilty, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The court ruled that the voting rights of Nemat Aliyev, a member of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, were violated. The court ordered the Azerbaijani government to pay him the equivalent in Azerbaijani manats of 7,500 euros ($10,023) in damages.

Aliyev registered as a candidate for the Barda electoral district in the 2005 parliamentary election. Zahid Oruj of the pro-government Ana Vatan Party was declared the winner of the vote in the district.

Aliyev appealed to the district election commission, claiming that the vote had been rigged by means of illegal intervention and ballot stuffing at the behest of local officials. The commission rejected his appeal, and the appeals court and the Supreme Court upheld the decision.

Aliyev appealed to the ECHR in Strasbourg in April 2006 to uphold his right to vote, to be elected in a free ballot, and to have a fair investigation of any complaint.

It is the ECHR's 23rd ruling on Azerbaijan, but the first related to election fraud.

Azerbaijani human rights activists say dozens of similar election-related appeals have been filed with the court.