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Jailed Azerbaijani Journalist Begins Hunger Strike

Journalist Eynulla Fatullayev's on trial in June 2010
Journalist Eynulla Fatullayev's on trial in June 2010
BAKU -- Imprisoned Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev has begun a hunger strike in prison, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Fatullayev, editor of the independent newspaper "Realny Azerbaijan," was sentenced in 2007 to a total of 11 years in prison on charges including tax evasion and fomenting interethnic hatred.

Human rights organizations consider the charges against him to be fabricated.

Fatullayev's lawyers told RFE/RL he is protesting the Azerbaijani authorities' failure to act on an April ruling by the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that Fatullayev should be released and paid 25,000 euros ($27,883) compensation.

The Azerbaijani authorities appealed that ruling on the last possible day, in July. But an ECHR court committee upheld the verdict at the beginning of October.

Fatullayev's lawyer, Elchin Sadiqov, said the European Court ruling should be implemented by Azerbaijani officials immediately. He said the Azerbaijani Supreme Court Plenum should define the procedure for doing so.

Supreme Court press secretary Allahverdi Mammadli told RFE/RL the plenum convenes quarterly and Fatullayev's case will be considered when it next meets. But he added that in urgent cases the plenum can convene more often.

Khanlar Haciyev, an Azerbaijani judge at the ECHR, told RFE/RL in an interview that "nobody, even the Azerbaijani authorities, have any doubts that the European Court decision should be implemented."

Human rights defender and lawyer Intiqam Aliyev similarly said the ECHR ruling should be implemented unconditionally. Otherwise, he warned, Azerbaijan could face international pressure and possible intervention by the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers.

Fatullayev was sentenced in July to an additional 2 1/2 year prison term after a small amount of drugs were allegedly found in his prison cell. Fatullayev said the drugs were planted.