A man arrested following a pro-military rally in Baku in July has been ‘illegally’ put in a COVID-19 quarantine centre despite a court ordering he be released into house arrest, his lawyer has said.
Mehdi Ibrahimov was detained on 15 July. On 10 August, he began a hunger strike over what he called his unjust arrest.
On Wednesday, the Khatai District Court of Baku granted the defence’s petition to transfer Ibrahimov to house arrest, his lawyer Agil Layij told OC Media. Layij said that Ibrahimov was not brought to the court session.
According to him, instead of executing the ruling, Ibrahimov was transferred from the specialised medical unit of the Penitentiary Service, where he was in quarantine, to a quarantine centre ‘where foreigners who travel to Azerbaijan are placed to spend quarantine’.
However, according to the court decision, Ibrahimov was to be released to house arrest the same day with only the obligation to wear an electronic bracelet.
‘They didn’t explain it at all’, Layij said. ‘Only the doctors in the centre, when asked, told us that it was an “order from above”, not giving any details.’
Layij said that defying the court order was unlawful.
‘He was taken away [...] under the pretext of [being infected with] coronavirus’
‘He was not tested for COVID-19, he didn’t have any positive or negative results. He doesn’t have any problems with his health [...] In that centre people are not treated, only isolated for quarantine’, he said.
Layij said he planned to appeal to the office of the Commissioner for Human Rights.
Namizad Safarov, a coordinator at local rights group the Committee Against Repression and Torture, told OC Media that there were contradictions in the authorities’ actions.
‘If Ibrahimov was infected with the coronavirus, he should have been hospitalised, not placed in the quarantine centre. And if not, If he was placed in the quarantine centre as a preventive measure, he should be kept there for two weeks.’
‘At the same time, Ibrahimov was placed in a special medical unit of Penitentiary Service, allegedly under quarantine. If there is no doubt today that he is infected with the virus, it is illegal to re-quarantine him together with the other people. He did not enter the country from abroad’, he said.
Arrest and hunger strike
Mehdi Ibrahimov was detained after participating in a demonstration in which thousands protested in central Baku calling on the authorities to escalate the conflict with Armenia. Before the police dispersed the protest, a group of demonstrators briefly occupied the parliament building.
[Read more on OC Media: Thousands of pro-war protesters rally in Azerbaijan]
He was accused of violating the quarantine regime and spreading COVID-19 during the protest. His father, Mammad Ibrahim, denied that his son was infected with the coronavirus.
While Ibrahimov is a member of the ruling party New Azerbaijan, his father is a member of the ruling presidium of the opposition Popular Front Party. Several of his relatives have said that Ibrahimov was detained because of the political activities of his father, who is also currently in custody for his alleged participation in the rally.
[Read on OC Media: Two men detained following Azerbaijan protest go on hunger strike]