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Three Azerbaijani Opposition Figures Jailed Over April Protest

Musavat Party deputy head Arif Hajili in jail in Baku
BAKU -- Three Azerbaijani opposition figures have been jailed for 2 1/2 years over an antigovernment protest in April that was broken up by police, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Arif Hajili, deputy head of the opposition Musavat Party; Tural Abbasli, who heads Musavat's youth organization; and opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) member Mahammad Majidli were sentenced on charges of attempting to violate public order and resisting officials.

The lawyer for another opposition figure, APFP Deputy Chairman Fuad Qahramanli, said his client received a two-year suspended sentence.

Addressing the court today, Majidli called the trial "a political commission." He said he would continue his struggle from jail.

"If you love Azerbaijan, if you want Azerbaijan's development and prosperity, make the decision you think is correct," he told the judge. "If I were you, I would go to jail, but would set free the person present here."

The other three defendants delivered their final speeches to the court on September 30.

Dozens of opposition supporters, including APFP Chairman Ali Karimli and Musavat leader Isa Qambar, gathered in front of the Sebail district court, which was surrounded by dozens of policemen.

Activists chanted "Ilham, resign!" referring to President Ilham Aliyev, and "Freedom!" They prevented police from detaining a young woman chanting slogans.

Journalists and opposition activists were not allowed into the courtroom while the verdict was being read out.

Six other activists arrested on April 2 were jailed on August 25 for between 1 1/2 and three years.

The trial of four more continues. All reject the charges against them as politically motivated.

Read more in Azeri and see video here