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Azerbaijan20 June 2005

Call for investigation of death of photographer beaten up by police

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders today urged the Azerbaijan government to launch an immediate enquiry into the weekend death of opposition newspaper photographer-reporter Alim Kazimli (photo), who was severely beaten up by police six months ago.

It voiced "astonishment" that the attack had not been investigated and called on interior minister Ramil Usubov to impartially look into the case at once and punish those responsible.

"Kazimli is the second journalist to be killed in the capital, Baku, in the past year and we demand that the government take all necessary steps to end this growing violence against journalists and to give them better protection," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

Kazimli, 54, who had worked for the main opposition daily Yeni Musavat for the past 12 years, died on 19 June as a result of a beating he received last 28 December at the Narimanov police station in Baku that left him paralysed on his left side. He fell into a coma on 17 June and then died of a brain haemorrhage.

He had gone to renew his identity papers at the police station’s passport office, where his wife said he declared he would expose in the paper the corruption and illegal behaviour by police. The office chief, Ali Mamedov, then summoned the policemen involved and they beat him up before calling an ambulance. Kazimli and his family filed a complaint but the attack was not investigated and Mamedov denied it had happened.

Repression of journalists in Azerbaijan has increased since the beginning of the year.

Akper Hasanov, of the opposition weekly Monitor, was kidnapped on 2 February and held for nearly five hours at military headquarters in Baku. He was forced to deny in writing the content of one of his articles.

Ganimat Zahidov (editor) and Azer Ahmedov (technical manager) of the opposition daily Azadlig, were kidnapped by strangers in Baku on 25 Febraury as they left the paper’s offices. They were threatened, beaten up and humiliated in a restaurant and the next day, at 3 a.m., forced to sign confessions at a police station in the city’s Khatai district.

Elmar Husseynov, editor of Monitor, was murdered in the stairway of his apartment building on 2 March. The authorities are working on the assumption he was killed because of his job or that his murder was planned abroad.

Farid Teymurkhanli, of the daily Zerkalo, was badly beaten by police as he was reporting on a demonstration in Baku on 21 May.




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