BAKU -- An Azerbaijani court has handed down heavy jail sentences to four men found guilty of abetting a gunman who shot dead 12 people at the State Oil Academy in Baku last year, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.
Baku's Court for Serious Crimes sentenced Ariz Qabulov to 11 years in prison and Nadir Aliyev, Javidan Amirov, and Nacaf Suleymanov were given life imprisonment. In addition to conspiracy they were also found guilty of terrorism, smuggling, and illegal weapons possession.
All four men deny any links to the April 2009 incident in which Farda Gadirov, an ethnic Azeri from Georgia, went on a shooting rampage at the university. He died at the scene.
The four convicted men -- who are also Azeris originally from Georgia -- say they were tortured during the pretrial investigation and forced to sign confessions, which they later retracted in court. The prosecution said a medical examination failed to corroborate their claims of abuse and torture.
The parents of the convicted men told RFE/RL their lawyers will appeal the sentence.
Aliyev's mother, Bahar Aliyeva, said her son and the other men were slandered in order to cover up for the real perpetrators. "They were tortured to [force them to] give false testimonies," she said.
The four men had demanded during the trial that their interrogator, Fakhraddin Panahov, be summoned and required to testify. But the judge rejected the request.