Azerbaijan news

Court upholds prosecutor’s request to keep AbzasMedia journalists in custody

The judge has accepted the prosecutor’s case in the ongoing investigation involving journalists from AbzasMedia.

On June 10, the Khatai District Court ruled to remand investigative journalists Hafiz Babali and Elnara Gasimova in custody for the initial investigation period. The court extended Babali’s detention by one month and Gasimova’s by two months.

Elnara Gasimova. Photo: Meydan TV

During the hearings, the investigator argued that the investigation into the “Abzas case,” in which Babali and Gasimova are implicated, remains incomplete. He asserted that releasing the journalists could jeopardize the investigation and potentially lead to their evasion. Consequently, he requested an extension of their detention.

Journalists and their legal representatives opposed the decision, asserting that Babali and Gasimova were being detained for their professional activities without any evidence of criminal conduct. The defense argued that the ongoing investigation could proceed without keeping the journalists in custody, as they had already been detained for six months without proof of wrongdoing.

Despite these objections, the judge sided with the prosecutor, extending the journalists’

Hafiz Babaly. Photo: Meydan TV

detention periods. The lawyers plan to appeal the decision.

The arrests in the AbzasMedia case, known for its corruption investigations, began on November 20 with the detention of the site’s director Ulvi Hasanli, deputy director Mahammad Kekalov, and editor-in-chief Sevinj Vagifqizi. Subsequent arrests included investigative journalists Hafiz Babali, Nargiz Absalamova, and Elnara Gasimova, all charged under Article 206.3.2 (smuggling by a group of persons) of the Criminal Code, which carries a prison sentence of 5 to 8 years.

All the detained journalists have pleaded not guilty, with AbzasMedia asserting that their investigations into business and corruption involving officials, including members of the President’s family, have led to these punitive measures.

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