Azerbaijani human rights lawyer sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail, 50 days before the European Games
Intigam Aliyev is the victim of a concerted campaign by the authorities in Azerbaijan to sweep all of the country's problems under the carpet as they prepare to host one of the largest European sports events in less than two months - Denis Krivosheev
The sentencing of a human rights lawyer and outspoken government opponent in Azerbaijan to seven-and-a-half years in jail on trumped-up charges shows the authorities’ desperate attempt to silence all critics ahead of the start of the European Games, said Amnesty International.
Intigam Aliyev, head of the NGO Legal Education Society, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years imprisonment on charges of tax avoidance, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of power.
Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, said:
“Intigam Aliyev is the latest victim of a concerted campaign by authorities in Azerbaijan to sweep all of the country’s problems under the carpet as they prepare to host one of the largest European sports events in less than two months. The message is: Tell the world about our problems and you will be punished.
“The only ‘crime’ Intigam Aliyev has committed is to defend the human rights of his fellow citizens. He should have never been jailed in the first place and must be released immediately and unconditionally.”
Intigam Aliyev is one of the few people in Azerbaijan to have provided legal assistance to the victims of politically-motivated persecution. Last week, on 16 April, Azerbaijani prisoner of conscience and founder of the NGO Human Rights Club, Rasul Jafarov was sentenced to six-and-a-half years’ imprisonment on trumped-up charges. He was detained on 2 August last year.
Amnesty has named at least 20 prisoners of conscience in Azerbaijan. They are currently languishing in prison or in detention awaiting trial following spurious charges ranging from fraud and embezzlement to abuse of drugs and even treason, solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. Amnesty is calling for them all to be immediately and unconditionally released.
Azerbaijan will host the inaugural European Games from 12 to 28 June in the capital city of Baku. Around 6,000 European athletes are expected to participate in the event.
Azerbaijan to host European Games amid widespread and relentless repression (4 March 2015, News Story/Report)