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Azerbaijani opposition leader Tofig Yagublu on hunger strike 

2 September 2020
Tofig Yagublu in front of the Nizami District Court after his initial arrest. Photo: Nigar Hazi/Facebook.

A prominent leader of the Azerbaijani opposition Musavat party, Tofig Yagublu, went on a hunger strike today protesting the ‘fabricated’ case brought against him, his lawyer reported. Earlier, the State Prosecutor called on the court to sentence him to four years and six months in prison.

According to Turan, Yagublu decided to go on a hunger strike at the court session on Wednesday after the judge, Nariman Mehdiyev, interrupted his closing speech several times and then cut him off entirely.

On 22 March, Yagublu wrote on Facebook that he had been attacked in Baku. 

‘My parked car was demonstratively hit [by another car] and then they [the people in the other car] attacked me’, he wrote. He was arrested shortly thereafter.  

The state’s narrative of events significantly differed from that of Yagublu. Ehsan Zahidov, the chief spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, told Report that Yagublu ‘punched’ the occupants of the other car, a married couple, and attacked them with a screwdriver causing them ‘various bodily injuries’.

After the incident, Yagublu was accused of hooliganism and using an object used as a weapon. The verdict will be announced on 3 September. 

[Read more on OC Media: Azerbaijan arrests opposition activists during Covid-19 outbreak

An ‘impudent falsification’

On Tuesday, State Prosecutor Asadulla Ramazanov called on the court to sentence Yagublu to four years and six months in a penal colony.

Shortly after his lawyer announced that he went on hunger strike a protest took place in Baku, where participants demanded Yagublu to be released. 

Yagublu’s daughter Nigar Hazi told journalists that the court did not review the videos on the cameras from the location of the altercation. 

‘The people who ordered and executed this impudent falsification against Yagublu will, sooner or later, answer before the law’, Hazi said. She added that ‘if there was at least one video’ of Tofig Yagublu doing anything illegal ‘it would be shown on television’. 

She also expressed concern about her father’s health. She accused Azerbaijani authorities of ‘torture’, adding that her Yagublu had to undergo surgery as a result.  

In March, Amnesty International urged Azerbaijani authorities to take action to release Yagublu because of the threat posed to his health. 

Yagublu had previously been sentenced to five years in prison in 2014 for his participation in a protest in the city of Ismayilli in 2013. He was released two years later.

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