Serious shortcomings in the criminal proceedings against Azerbaijani opposition politician, Ilgar Mammadov, are highlighted today in a Strasbourg court judgement.
In its ruling in the case of Ilgar Mammadov v. Azerbaijan (No. 2) (application no. 919/15) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the court held that Azerbaijan was to pay Mammadov 10,000 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage.
The case concerned the criminal proceedings brought against a prominent Azerbaijani opposition politician, Ilgar Eldar oglu Mammadov, following protests in the town of Ismayilli in 2013.
Ilgar Eldar oglu Mammadov, an Azerbaijani national born in 1970, is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence following his conviction in 2014 of mass disorder.
Mammadov has a history of criticising the Azerbaijani Government and had announced his intention to stand as candidate in the November 2013 presidential elections. However, he was unable to do so because he was arrested and placed in pre-trial detention following protests in the town of Ismayilli on 24 January 2013.
Mammadov was subsequently charged and convicted of mass disorder. This is the second case he has brought before the European Court of Human Rights; the first concerned his arrest and pre-trial detention following the same events.
The court found that the domestic courts had either not addressed or remained silent about a number of inconsistencies in the evidence used to convict Mammadov, despite the defence’s repeated objections about flawed or misrepresented evidence.
In particular, as concerned the witness statements for the prosecution: some of the police officers who testified that Mammadov had incited protestors to violence had only been questioned five months after the protests and one had retracted his pre-trial statement saying that he had signed it without even reading it.
As concerned certain video recordings used to convict him: one had shown clashes between protestors whereas another had shown footage of calm streets with very few protestors.
Furthermore, Mammadov’s blog posts and social media posts as well as a transcript of a radio interview, used to prove that he had planned the mass disorder, had dated either from when he had been in Ismayilli or after leaving it, and had contained no incitement to violence.
Indeed, in the news coverage on the riots, which the courts found to be in support of the prosecution’s case, there had been no express reporting of any actual outbreak of violence during the afternoon of 24 January 2013, when Mammadov had been present in Ismayilli.
In conclusion, there had been serious shortcomings in the manner in which the evidence used to convict Mammadov had been admitted, examined and/or assessed. Equally, the manner in which the courts had dealt with the defence’s objections concerning that evidence had been inadequate.
Indeed, any evidence favourable to him had been systematically dismissed in an inadequately reasoned or manifestly unreasonable manner.