Amnesty International urges Azerbaijan to release opposition leaders

Azerbaijan authorities must release two opposition leaders facing what Amnesty International believes to be trumped up charges of organizing rioting in the town of Ismayili.

The riots started a day before their arrival and carried on for two more days after they visited Ismayili to monitor the situation.

Arrested on 4 February, Presidential candidate Ilgar Mammadov and activist Tofig Yagublu were remanded yesterday in custody for two months pending trial, during a closed hearing.

“The case has all the hallmarks of a politically motivated prosecution” said David Diaz-Jogeix, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

“Ilgar Mammadov and Tofig Yagublu have been jailed on charges of starting a riot that had begun spontaneously, before they even set foot in town. The prosecution so far has not presented any evidence supporting these charges.”

Both opposition leaders have been charged with organizing and participating in ‘mass disorder’ and ‘violently resisting police’ – charges which together could carry sentences of up to ten years imprisonment.  According to the lawyers, no evidence has been presented to prove that the accused have committed a crime or incited others to do so.

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