BAKU -- The U.S. Embassy in Baku has expressed regret at the sentencing of four opposition politicians for their role in a protest six months ago, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.
On October 3, the Sabail District Court convicted the four on charges of conspiracy to violate public order for planning and organizing the antigovernment protest on April 2 that was broken up by police.
Three of the detainees -- Arif Hajili and Tural Abbasli of the opposition Musavat party, and Mahammad Majidli of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) -- were jailed for 2 1/2 years. The fourth, APFP deputy chairman Fuad Qahramanli, was given a two-year suspended sentence.
A total of 14 activists were detained in connection with the protest. Ten of them have been convicted. The trial of the remaining four is still under way.
"The United States further regrets decisions by the same court on August 25 to convict Sahib Karimov, Babek Hasanov, Zulfuqar Eyvazli, Arif Alishli, Elshan Hasanov, and Elnur Israfilov on similar charges," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement issued on October 4.
The statement reminds Baku of its obligations to respect people's right to freedom of assembly and expression, adding, "Accordingly, the United States calls upon Azerbaijan's judicial authorities to ensure any appeals of these convictions are reviewed in accordance with Azerbaijan's constitutional and international commitments, which exist to help all Azerbaijanis deepen their country's democratic culture, processes, and institutions."
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