The ICJ welcomes the release of human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev today after the Supreme Court reduced and suspended his sentence and ordered his immediate release.
Intigam Aliyev, a prominent human rights lawyer and the head of the NGO Legal Education Society, had been convicted on 22 April 2015 of tax avoidance, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of power and sentenced to seven and a half years of imprisonment by a Baku Court.
A number of credible human rights organizations and international observers who have closely followed the case have stated that they consider the charges he was tried on to have been politically motivated, and that the real reason for his prosecution and conviction was repression by the Government of critical voices in civil society.
In a closed hearing, the Supreme Court reduced his sentence to five years of imprisonment and suspended its execution, after a request to this effect was made by Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor General, Zakir Garalov.
This unusual initiative follows the rejection, on 24 February, by the same Supreme Court of Intigam Aliyev’s complaint against his sentence.
“While the release of Intigam Aliyev is a positive step, the ICJ remains concerned that this decision appears to leave the underlying conviction in place despite credible reports that the charges were politically motivated,” said Massimo Frigo, ICJ Legal Adviser.
“If, as these allegations would suggest, Intigam Aliyev was targeted for his work as a lawyer, this would clearly violate international standards on the independence of lawyers”, said Temur Shakirov, another ICJ Legal Adviser.
Temur Shakirov, Legal Adviser, Europe Programme, temur.shakirov(a)icj.org
Massimo Frigo, Legal Adviser, Europe Programme, masimo.frigo(a)icj.org