Judge Fagan Ahmadov of the Sabunchu District Court in Baku has allegedly shot dead his wife with a shotgun.
According to a statement from the Prosecutor General’s Office, Ahmadov shot dead Ahmadova Parvana Suleyman on 30 May.
Ahmadov was not immediately arrested because of the immunity granted to judges. He has since been remanded into pretrial arrest. The Sabunchu District Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the case as deliberate murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.
The motives of this crime remain unknown, however, gender-motivated crimes in Azerbaijan are not considered an aggravating circumstance.
Ahmadov was born in 1976 and has been a judge at the Sabunchu District Court since 2016. The couple had 3 children together.
Human rights lawyer Samad Rahimli told OC Media that Azerbaijan’s constitution gave judges immunity from prosecution until prosecutor’s obtain the consent of the Judicial-Legal Council.
Rahimli said that domestic violence was widespread in Azerbaijan, and that the authorities did not always respond adequately to it.
‘Not only murder, but many violent crimes against women are committed’, he said.
‘When there are serious consequences, law enforcement agencies investigate and prosecute those responsible. However, law enforcement agencies do not implement preventive measures in a timely manner’, he continued.
‘The existence of such crimes against women underscores the importance of the adoption of the Istanbul Convention’, he concluded.
Azerbaijan, along with Russia, is among only two of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states not to have signed the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention. Turkey ratified the agreement before announcing they were withdrawing in March this year.
Neighbouring Georgia has signed and ratified the agreement while Armenia has signed but not yet ratified it.
Zhala Bayramova, a human rights lawyer and feminist activist, said the case was an example of how patriarchal attitudes were prevelant in the justice system.
‘This crime sends a message to many perpetrators that judges deciding their cases have the same worldviews as them’, Bayramova told OC Media.
‘Usually, perpetrators are acquitted of “honour crimes” because judges also disregard the laws in favour of patriarchal rules.’
Bayramova said that the killing brought into question all of Ahmadov’s previous rulings.
‘President Ilham Aliyev appoints all Judges, and this gives them more privileges to escape the punishment.’
She added that the perpetrators of gender-based crimes were frequently not arrested immediately, whether they have immunity or not.
‘The fact that the judge has not been detained after the murder also confirms the reality of anybody serving Ilham Aliyev or patriarchal rules not being effectively punished for their crimes. Whether a judge or non-government employee, in the case of murder, they should not have immunity.’