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State prosecutor requested 9 years prison sentence for Anar Mammadli

State prosecutor requested 9 years prison sentence for Anar Mammadli, 8 years 6 months for Bashir Suleymanli and 8 years 6 months for Elnur Mammadov.

EMDS considers the request of the prosecution about the accused persons groundless and unjust, and demands the court to drop all the charges against accused.

During the trial, 19 persons identified as victims by the prosecution and 24 persons called in as witnesses testified in favor of EMDS stating that they did not occur any damage from the organization and they were deceived during the investigation refusing to confirm their testimonies given during the investigation. In addition, expert opinion provided by Court Handwriting and Court Accounting Experts during the investigation was not confirmed in the trial. Prosecution failed to prove the claims stated in acts signed by the experts of the Ministries of Taxes and Finance, as well as the State Council for NGO Support. None of three witnesses were able to justify “evidence” mentioned in the acts against the questions of lawyers and other participants of the trial and confessed that they drafted acts based on documents provided by the prosecution.

EMDS notes that it cooperated with citizens on voluntary basis during the monitoring of the 9 October 2013 Presidential Elections and complied with all requirements of the Constitution and the Election Code of Azerbaijan. The organization has conducted the domestic election monitoring for more than ten years in accordance with the national legislation and documents of Copenhagen and Moscow summits which Azerbaijan is party to as a member of the OSCE. Therefore, members of the EMDS and VIC did not commit a crime by collecting and sharing information on, and monitoring the 2013 Presidential Elections.

Political discrimination dominating the judicial system of Azerbaijan resulted in restriction of registration of independent NGOs in the country. Registration of the EMDS’s predecessor, Election Monitoring Centre (EMC), was annulled by the court on 14 May 2008 several months prior to the presidential election. EMDS, established by the members of the EMC, denied state registration by the Ministry of Justice. After the domestic courts failed to support the claims on both organizations, the members filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights on both cases.

EMDS urges Azerbaijani government to stop the attempts to limit the activities of organizations and civic groups working for enhancing transparency of elections through administrative pressure and to ensure opportunities for meaningful political participation. EMDS has always been open to public discussions on its election monitoring, including the 2013 Presidential Election with participation of election officials, media, NGOs and political parties, and has always considered such dialogue as integral part of its mission. The organization will continue to work consistently and systematically towards establishment of fair electoral system in the country based on guiding principles of the Council of Europe and the OSCE, and will cooperate with interested national and international organizations, state and non-state institutions.

Anar Mammadli and Bashir Suleymanli face charges under Articles 179.3.2 (appropriation in significant size), 192.2.2 (illegal entrepreneurship by organized group), 213.1 (tax evasion), 308.2 (abuse of official authority with grave consequences) and 313 (service forgery) of the Criminal Code. Elnur Mammadov, in addition to the same set of charges, also accused of committing crimes under the 3 clauses of the Article 179 (same acts committed repeatedly, by person with use of service position and with causing of damage in significant size). All three accused persons considers the charges brought against them trumped up, and related to their professional work, particularly to the critical report on the results of the monitoring of the last presidential elections.

EMDS together with its domestic partner VIC conducted long-term and short-term monitoring of the 2013 Presidential Elections in cooperation with volunteer observers registered at the election commissions. The organization produced and disseminated two Interim Reports and the Preliminary Statement based on the information provided by the observers.

EMDS is member of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO), European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), Network of Parliament Monitoring Organizations and the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership Program of the European Union.