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Lawyer For Azerbaijani Opposition Activist Says Court Is Holding Up Appeal


Aqil Humbatov was put in a psychiatric clinic.

BAKU -- The lawyer of a member of the opposition Popular Front Of Azerbaijan (AXCP) says the failure of a local court to provide documents is holding up his client's appeal and forcing him to remain in the psychiatric clinic he was placed in after criticizing the country's leadership.

Lawyer Nemat Karimli told RFE/RL on April 22 that his client Aqil Humbatov had yet to receive a copy of the April 2 court ruling which forcibly put him in a psychiatric clinic in Baku's Mastaga district.

"Without the written copy of the court's decision, we technically cannot appeal the ruling to the country's Supreme Court," Karimli said.

Critics of longtime President Ilham Aliyev's government say authorities of the oil-rich South Caucasus nation 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.

Humbatov was first detained on March 30, a day after he placed a post on Facebook that criticized the government and President Aliyev for ignoring the rights of poor children, many of whom need medical treatment.

He was sent to a psychiatric clinic the same day with a diagnosis of "paranoid personality disorder."

However, on April 1, a court ruled that Humbatov could not be placed in a clinic against his will and the activist was released.

Humbatov then published new posts on Facebook describing the conditions in the psychiatric clinic as "inhuman" and "horrible."

On April 2, police detained Humbatov again and a court of appeals in Baku ruled that he must be placed in a psychiatric clinic for treatment.

Humbatov, his wife, and his lawyer insist that he is absolutely healthy, both physically and mentally, and that there is no need to keep him in the clinic.

Aliyev denies any rights abuses. 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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