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Killed Azerbaijani Journalist Buried In Baku

Azerbaijani writer Rafig Tagi died after suffering multiple stab wounds in a late-night attack in Baku.
Azerbaijani writer Rafig Tagi died after suffering multiple stab wounds in a late-night attack in Baku.
BAKU -- Azerbaijani writer and journalist Rafiq Tagi, who died four days after being stabbed in a late-night attack in Baku, has been laid to rest, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Tagi, who was a critic of the Azerbaijani government, Iran, and political Islam, died suddenly on November 23 in the Baku hospital where he had been treated following the attack on him on November 19.

Doctors said on November 24 that Tagi died of inflammation of the lungs as a result of the multiple stab wounds he suffered.

Shakir Musayev, the Health Ministry's director of the Union of Expertise and Pathological Anatomy, maintained that this is the initial diagnosis by doctors but that an investigation into the exact cause of death will continue.

"We [have taken] all necessary biological materials needed for laboratory tests," he said. "A final diagnosis will be made after a more thorough examination. We are seeking to provide clarification for all the issues [surrounding Tagi's] death."

WATCH: Azerbaijani writer Rafiq Tagi is buried in Baku

Rafiq Tağının dəfni
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Rasim Karadzha, a friend of Tagi's and editor of the "Alatoran" literary journal, told RFE/RL that Tagi died about 3 pm on November 23.

Dr. Nizameddin Asgarov said shortly after Tagi died that he had choked to death on his vomit and that "we cannot find any other reason for his death."

Tagi had given an interview to RFE/RL about an hour before he died and said he was recovering well. A doctor said after Tagi died that his blood pressure and other vital statistics had been checked by doctors less than 10 minutes before his death and were normal.

Tagi underwent four hours of surgery after the attack on November 19 and had his spleen removed. His pancreas was also damaged in the knife attack by two unknown assailants.

Criminal Investigation Underway

Local rights groups have issued statements saying the attempt on Tagi should be investigated as a terror attack on society. Police have launched a criminal case for intentionally inflicting serious damage to someone's health.

International media watchdogs, including Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, have issued statements calling for a thorough and fair investigation to be conducted into the writer's death.

Reporters Without Borders expressed shock on November 23 at Tagi's death and urged investigators "to seriously consider the possibility that the attack was linked to his work as a journalist."

In comments to RFE/RL on November 21, Tagi said the attack might have been linked to an article he published earlier this month on the website of RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service titled "Iran and the Inevitability of Globalization."

In the article, he sharply criticized the Iranian government and ridiculed Tehran's threats against Azerbaijan.

In 2007, a district court in Baku sentenced Tagi to three years in jail for an article published in 2006 that was deemed to be critical of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. He was granted a presidential pardon later that year.

That article prompted an Iranian cleric, Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani, to place a fatwa on Tagi, calling for his death.

On November 22, the Iranian Embassy in Baku issued a statement denying any Iranian involvement in the attack on Tagi.

Read more in Azeri here and here

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