On 9 December, the Khatai District Court of Baku sentenced Bakhtiyar Hajiyev to 50 days of pre-trial detention on charges of hooliganism and contempt of court, which he maintains are politically motivated.
Hajiyev could face up to three years in prison if found guilty. He was accused of hooliganism in October after engaging in a verbal altercation in court with Ulviyya Alovlu, a TV anchor with whom he was embroiled in a defamation case.
He pleaded not guilty and claims that his persecution was politically motivated.
Hajiyev’s arrest drew criticism from international organisations and institutions. On the day of his arrest, Amnesty International called for Hajiyev’s immediate release and demanded that he was given a fair trial.
Former #PrisonerOfConscience from #Azerbaijan Bakhtiyar Hajiyev is arrested again. He faces up to three years in jail on politically motivated charges. He must be immediately released and afforded a fair trial
— amnestypress (@amnestypress) December 9, 2022
On Saturday, Peter Stano, a European Commission spokesperson, expressed concern over the activist’s arrest.
Azerbaijan:🇪🇺 is concerned about the reported arrest of civil activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev allegedly on hooliganism charges. The EU calls on 🇦🇿 authorities to ensure a transparent and impartial investigation of his case. https://t.co/JR5pdJlsi3
— Peter Stano (@ExtSpoxEU) December 9, 2022
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev is a prominent activist and government critic. In April 2022, Hajiyev was allegedly abducted and beaten for writing posts critical of the Minister of Interior, Vilayat Eyvazaov.
He accused Eyvazov of orchestrating his abduction.
From defamation to hooliganism
Alovlu and Hajiyev first quarreled on social media in July 2021 after the two agreed to let their cats mate. Alovlu accused the activist of not giving him any of the kittens.
The two pressed charges against each other.
During court proceedings in October 2021, the two engaged in a verbal altercation. Alovlu alleges that the argument escalated and that Hajiyev physically assaulted her.
Hajiyev denies attacking Alovlu.
Following the incident, she accused the activist of hooliganism, while the Baku City Chief Police Department accused him of contempt of court.