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Six Azerbaijani Opposition Activists Go On Trial

Popular Front member Sahib Karimov is one of the detainees.
Popular Front member Sahib Karimov is one of the detainees.
BAKU -- Six Azerbaijani opposition activists have gone on trial over an antigovernment protest in Baku three months ago that was broken up by police, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Dozens of activists were detained during the April 2 protest, which was organized by the opposition Public Chamber.

The six who went on trial today are among 14 activists charged with organizing "actions resulting in the violation of public order and resisting and using force against government officials."

The six could be sentenced to up to three years in jail if found guilty.

The six are: Azerbaijan Popular Front members Sahib Karimov, Arif Alishli, Babek Hasanov, and Zulfuqar Eyvazli; Musavat party activist Elshan Hasanov; and Elnur Israfilov.

Lawyers for the six petitioned in court for the criminal charges to be dropped and the activists released. The lawyers argued that the videos of the protest do not show any reprehensible behavior on the part of the accused.

The lawyers also asked the judge to bring to court and interrogate the men in civilian clothes who helped the police disperse the protest and forced the protesters into police cars.

Lawyer Fakhraddin Mehdiyev further petitioned that a Baku city council official should be summoned to the court to explain why the council violated citizens' rights to freedom of assembly by not giving permission for the protest.

All of the defense lawyers' requests were rejected by the judge, who scheduled the next session for July 19.

Read more in Azeri here