The Baku Court of Appeal has rejected a request by Azerbaijani social activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev — who remains on hunger strike — to be released on bail.
On Tuesday, the court ruled to uphold his pre-trial detention until 28 February. Hajiyev was arrested on 9 December and charged with hooliganism, charges local and international rights groups have described as politically motivated.
According to Hajiyev’s lawyer Rovshana Rahimli, Bakhtiyar’s health continues to deteriorate. She said he was suffering from dizziness, low blood pressure, and stomach bleeding.
Rahimli said her client, who has been on hunger strike for 16 days, required further medical examinations.
Speaking in court, Hajiyev vowed to continue his hunger strike despite his health problems.
His lawyers had insisted there was no rationale for keeping him behind bars, and that the court should select an alternative preventative measure during the investigation, such as bail or house arrest.
Representatives of several Western embassies attempted to attend Monday’s hearing, but were turned away by the court.
Zaur Akbar, an Azerbaijani human rights activist who is currently in Strasbourg to attend a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said there was a need to raise the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan internationally.
Also on Tuesday, representatives of Azerbaijani civil society appealed to President Ilham Aliyev to release Bakhtiyar Hajiyev along with journalist and activist Avaz Zeynalli from prison. Eighteen public figures including journalists and publicists signed the appeal.
‘Taking into account the serious health concerns of both persons who are currently in prison, we are writing to ask you to help replace the detention measures selected during the investigation with house arrest.’
‘Bakhtiyar Hajiyev and Avaz Zeynalli were influential people in the public; both of them loved their state and were devoted to their people’, the appeal said. ‘They are patriotic people. We ask you to humanely intervene in this case, hoping that their professional activities for the country will be taken into account, and in the near future they will be fully acquitted because of their innocence.’