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Another Group In Azerbaijan's Nardaran Case Sentenced To Prison

Seven people, including two police officers, were killed during the raids in December 2015.

BAKU -- A court in Baku has sentenced 12 men to lengthy prison terms in a high-profile case after convicting them of terrorism, publicly calling for the overthrow of the government, and inciting ethnic, religious, and social hatred.

The Baku City Court for Grave Crimes on December 28 sentenced the last group in what is known as the Nardaran case to prison terms ranging from 12 to 15 years.

Lawyers of the convicted men called the verdicts and sentences illegal and said they will appeal the rulings.

Rights defenders in Azerbaijan say a total of 87 people have been arrested in the Nardaran case, which they describe as a politically motivated crackdown on dissent. The men are being tried and sentenced in groups.

One group was sentenced to prison in 2016 and two other groups in January and early December.

The men were arrested during November and December of 2015 in a series of raids against alleged religious extremists in Nardaran, a village on the outskirts of Baku. Seven people, including two police officers, were killed during the raids.

Those convicted and sentenced include Fuad Qahramanli, deputy chairman of the opposition Popular Front Party; Taleh Bagirzade, leader of the Movement for Muslim Unity; and Bagirzade's deputy, Abbas Huseynov.

Critics say President Ilham Aliyev's government uses trumped-up charges in a persistent campaign to silence opposition.