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Azerbaijan loses three cases in ECHR

19 February 2021
Mammad Azizov and Shahin Novruzlu. Photo via Mikroskopmedia.

Azerbaijan has been ordered to pay over €280,000 in compensation after losing three separate cases at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). 

On Thursday, the court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs in the cases of two formerly imprisoned youth activists, a man held in pretrial custody without a court order, and 18 residents of Baku whose land was appropriated. 

In the cases of Mammad Azizov and Shahin Novruzlu, two activists from the NIDA youth movement, the court ordered Azerbaijan to pay €20,000 each in moral damages.

The two were arrested in early 2013, when Novruzlu was only 17 years of age, on drugs, weapons, and rioting charges. In 2014, the Baku Court of Grave Crimes sentenced Azizov to 7 years and 6 months, and Shahin Novruzlu, to 6 years in prison.

Novruzlu was released in October 2014 and Azizov in a presidential pardon in March 2016.

Khalid Agaliyev, a lawyer representing the two, told RFE/RL that the court had recognised most of their claims. 

‘According to the decision, Articles 5 (right to liberty and security) and 18 (limits on the use of restrictions on their rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights were violated against the applicants.’


A state land grab and illegal detention

In a separate case on Thursday, the court awarded 18 residents of Baku €10,000 euros each in material damages and €3,000 each in moral damages.

In 2007 a total of 30 hectares of land located on the seafront in the Nardaran settlement of Baku, including land leased by the 18 complainants, was handed over to the Kurdakhani Municipality.

The municipality sold the land to the Crocus Group, which was owned by the family of Emin Agalarov, who was President Aliyev’s son-in-law at the time. 

Emin Agalarov, who was married to the president’s eldest daughter Leyla Aliyeva from 2006–2015, was the vice-president of Crocus Group, while his father, Araz Agalarov, owned the company.

The case was submitted to the ECHR in 2009 after local courts failed to satisfy their complaint. 

A third judgement was handed down in favour of Ilgar Feyzov, who was awarded €5,350 in damages. The court found that from 18 April to 3 May 2012, Feyzov was illegally detained after the period of his court-ordered pretrial detention ended. 

According to a 60-year overview by ECHR for the years 1959–2020, the court has issued a total of 215 judgements for cases concerning Azerbaijan, finding at least one violation in 206 of them. Of these, 84 concerned the right to a fair trial, 78 the right to liberty and security, 38 the protection of property, and 37 freedom of assembly and association.

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