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Azerbaijan30 December 2004

Press photographer apparently beaten in police station

Reporters Without Borders voiced deep concern today at the beating apparently inflicted on 28 december on Alim Kazimli, a reporter and photographer with the main opposition daily Yeni Musavat, when he went to the Narimanov district police station in Baku seeking new ID papers.

The organisation called on interior minister Ramil Usubov to order an immediate investigation to establish why Kazimli suffered a cerebral haemorrhage inside the police station and to punish those responsible if it is confirmed that he was assaulted by police officers.

Kazimli was taken unconscious from the police station to a hospital where he recovered consciousness but was paralysed on the left side of his body and unable to speak. He partially recovered his ability to talk on 29 december. His prognosis is uncertain because complications could occur at any time during the next 10 days.

Interior ministry press spokesman Eisan Zahidov denied on 29 december that the police were in any way responsible, referring to a statement by the head of the Narimanov police station’s passport service, Abil Mamedov, that Kazimli "created a disturbance outside the police station, saying he was going to write an article about illegal police practices."

Mamedov said he asked Kazimli to enter the building to discuss the matter further and, at this moment, Kazimli began to feel ill and lost consciousness. The police said they then called an ambulance to take him to hospital.

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