Azerbaijani Political Scientist Conditionally Released from Prison
August 14, 2018
|[Photo credit: RFE/RL, Inc.]|
Azerbaijani political scientist Ilgar Mammadov was freed from prison yesterday, after serving five and a half years of his seven-year prison sentence. Upon reviewing his case, a court of appeals ordered his conditional release. He is on parole for two years and is banned from foreign travel.
In addition to his work as a political analyst and former director of the Baku School of Political Studies, Mr. Mammadov is well-known for his leadership of the Azerbaijani ReAl (Republican Alternative) opposition movement and his advocacy efforts in support of freedom of expression and assembly in Azerbaijan. At the time of his arrest in February 2013, he was expected to be a candidate in the October 2013 presidential elections. Mr. Mammadov was taken into custody after traveling to northwest Azerbaijan to report on riots that had begun the day before he arrived. The riots were triggered by a vehicle accident involving a district official’s relative. He was subsequently charged with organizing and inciting violent protests and, in March 2014, was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Two months later, the European Court of Human Rights issued a unanimous judgment in Mr. Mammadov’s favor, finding that several of his fundamental rights had been violated and that there was no reasonable basis for suspecting him of having committed the offenses concerned. The Court, whose rulings are binding on Azerbaijan as a member of the Council of Europe (CoE) and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, further concluded that Mr. Mammadov was targeted for having criticized the government. A subsequent ruling by the Court found that his right to a fair trial had been violated. Following numerous unsuccessful requests for Mr. Mammadov’s release, the CoE’s Committee of Ministers began infringement proceedings against Azerbaijan in late 2017.