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Azerbaijani Opposition Activist Jailed For Two Years

Şahin Həsənli iki il azadlıqdan məhrum edildi
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WATCH: Azerbaijani opposition activist Shahin Hasanli arrives at the court in Shamkir for sentencing.

SHAMKIR, Azerbaijan -- Opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AHCP) activist Shahin Hasanli has been sentenced to two years in jail on charges of illegal possession of weapons and explosives, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The prosecutor at the court in Shamkir, some 400 kilometers west of Baku, had asked on July 21 for a 2 1/2 year sentence.

Hasanli was detained at a friend's home in Shamkir on March 31, two days before an opposition protest planned for April 2. Police say they found cartridges in his pockets. Hasanli said the bullets were planted and he is innocent.

Hasanli told the court on July 21 that the trial was superficial. He said telephone calls by local police to his home and that of his parents prior to his arrest were not investigated.

Lawyer Mansum Bayramov told the court that the case against Hasanli was fabricated. Bayramov said the cartridges were not tested for fingerprints, and witnesses' testimony was contradictory.

AHCP Chairman Ali Karimli told RFE/RL that Hasanli was jailed on orders from Azerbaijani authorities.

"Hasanli was arrested ahead of the April 2 protest in order to sabotage this protest," he said. "Cartridges were planted in his pocket in the Shamkir district. His arrest shows political repression."

Another group of opposition activists detained during the April protests is also currently on trial. They are charged with organizing "actions resulting in the violation of public order and resisting and using force against government officials."

Their trial is to continue on July 22.

Read more in Azeri here