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Azerbaijan2 March 2009

Four years after editor’s murder, investigators have achieved nothing

On the fourth anniversary of the murder of leading opposition journalist Elmar Huseynov, the editor of the Monitor weekly newspaper, Reporters Without Borders today deplored the fact that his murderers are still at large.

“Not only has the case not been solved, but independent journalists and news media continue to be harassed,” the press freedom organisation said. “Those responsible are rarely arrested or questioned, which encourages a permanent climate of intimidation as regards the independent and opposition press.”

Media representatives, members of the press council and representatives of various political parties gathered today at Huseynov’s grave to pay tribute to him. His father, Sabir Huseynov, voiced concern at the inability of the authorities to arrest those responsible for his murder and bring them to trial.

In an interview for the APA news agency, national security ministry representative Arif Babayev insisted that investigators have not neglected the case. He said they had travelled four times to Georgia, where two suspects with Georgian nationality are believed to be hiding. He also said that six requests for legal assistance have been sent to the authorities in Georgia but the latter were refusing to look for the suspects or hand them over to the Azerbaijani police.

When Barry Lowenkron, then US assistant secretary of state for democracy and human rights, visited Huseynov’s grave in 2006, he said attacks against journalists such as Huseynov should be regarded as “attacks against democracy.”

One of Azerbaijan’s best-known and respected journalists and a outspoken critic of the government, Huseynov was found shot dead in his apartment on 2 March 2005.

At the time of his murder, President Ilham Aliev described it as a “provocation” and an “act of terrorism.” Nonetheless, the investigation did not get very far.

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