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Azerbaijani Opposition Activist Sentenced To 10 Years On Charges He Denies


Aqil Humbatov in 2019

BAKU -- A member of the opposition Popular Front Of Azerbaijan (AXCP) who has openly criticized the government of authoritarian President Ilham Aliyev for "ignoring the needs of children" in lower-income families has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on a stabbing charge he vehemently denies.

A court in Baku sentenced Aqil Humbatov on November 15 after it found him guilty of stabbing Yaman Mammadov in August.

Humbatov has rejected the charge, claiming that he was framed by the police. He insists that Mammadov purposely injured himself with a knife after staging a confrontation with him.

Humbatov's lawyer, Nemat Karimli, told RFE/RL that his client will appeal the ruling.

Last year, Humbatov was placed in a psychiatric clinic against his will after he criticized the tightly controlled South Caucasus state's leadership and demanded social allowances for the children of poorer families.

Critics of longtime President Aliyev's government say the authorities in the oil-rich former Soviet republic frequently seek to silence dissent by jailing opposition activists, reporters, human rights defenders, and civil society advocates without grounds.

Dozens of AXCP members have been arrested, and some imprisoned, in recent years on what their supporters have called trumped-up charges.

Aliyev denies any rights abuses in the country. He took power in 2003 shortly before the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and communist-era leader who had ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.

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