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Azerbaijan: Update - Sentencing of human rights defender Mr Bahtyar Mamedov
On 27 February 2013, the Court of Grave Crimes in Baku announced the verdict in the trial of human rights defender Mr Bahtyar Mamedov, sentencing him to eight years imprisonment.
Bahtyar Mamedov was sentenced under Articles 178.1 and 182.3 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan on offences related to “fraud” and “extortion accompanied by violence”. Bahtyar Mamedov's lawyers intend to appeal the Court's decision and state that the human rights defender was persecuted for defending the rights of families in Baku whose homes were demolished.
Bahtyar Mamedov is a defender of property rights and the legal representative of Baku inhabitants whose houses have been demolished. From June 2011 onwards, evictions of the local population took place in Baku near Flag Square, and their properties were destroyed to make way for the construction of a new highway ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2012. The inhabitants were offered financial compensation lower than the rate specified by an earlier governmental decision.
Front Line Defenders condemns the sentencing of human rights defender Bahtyar Mamedov, and believes it to be directly motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of housing rights, in particular the right of inhabitants of demolished houses to adequate compensation. Furthermore, Front Line Defenders reiterates its concern that the investigation of the case showed serious procedural irregularities, and urges the authorities of Azerbaijan to ensure the quashing of the aforementioned sentence and the immediate release of Bahtyar Mamedov.