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Azerbaijan29 September 2006

Two-year suspended sentence and sizeable damages for probe into interior minister

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the suspended sentence of two years in prison passed by the Yasamal district court in Baku on 26 September on Realny Azerbaidjan editor Eynulla Fatullayev for allegedly libelling and insulting interior minister Ramil Usubov.

The court also ordered that Usubov should get 11,500 euros in damages from Fatullayev and another 6,000 euros from his newspaper. Usubov brought the suit over two articles published in July about his alleged financial links with Haji Mamedov, a former official who supposedly killed Elmar Huseynov, the founder and editor of the Monitor newspaper.

“The court’s sentence is designed to impose silence on an entire newspaper simply because its journalists investigated the country’s leaders, which is precisely the kind of thing the press is supposed to do in a democracy,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Fatullayev was prosecuted under articles 147.2 and 148 of the criminal code, which are currently being used to prosecute other journalists despite recommendations by the OSCE and Council of Europe that Azerbaijan should eliminate all articles under which journalists cans be imprisoned for press offences.

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