A 25-year-old man who reportedly suffered from mental illness was found dead in the northeastern Azerbaijani city of Shabran on Saturday, after an apparent ‘exorcism’ attempt.
The Interior Ministry of Azerbaijan reported on Monday that Murad Soltanov, a resident of Baku, was discovered in a flat with multiple bodily injuries.
Pictures circulating online showed Soltanov’s body covered in bruises.
Police have opened an investigation for inflicting fatal injuries and using forbidden treatment methods resulting in death.
Police said they had detained six local men who confessed to beating Soltanov with sticks from pomegranate trees in an attempt to ‘exorcise’ him.
Azerbaijani news site Qafqazinfo quoted a friend of Soltanov as saying that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia in Baku and that his condition had deteriorated before he departed for Shabran with his father.
The Interior Ministry said that Murad’s father, Shahin Soltanov, had previously taken him to a cleric in the village of Mashtagha, on the outskirts of Baku, who also attempted an ‘exorcism’ on him.
Afterwards, according to Sputnik Azerbaijan, Murad’s father rented a flat in Shabran, took another cleric, mullah Fizuli Garibov there, and paid him ₼400 ($240) to conduct a ritual on his son to ‘free him from bad spirits’.
Qafqazinfo quoted Soltanov’s friend as saying that during the ordeal, Soltanov begged the men to stop ‘but they said it was not him speaking; it was the demon’.
He said his body was black from bruises and that there were traces of vomited blood.