The Case of Iskander Hamidov: A mirror of human rights violations in Azerbaijan

HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER OF AZERBAIJAN
150-9, Bashir Safaroglu Street, 370000 Baku, Azerbaijan
Tel/fax +994-12-947550, e-mail: eldar@hrcenter.baku.az
December 28, 1996

1. Biographical data

Iskander Medjid oglu Hamidov was born on April 10, 1948 in the Bagli Peya village, Kelbadjar region, Azerbaijan Republic. Married, has 2 sons. Major-general of police. Former member of Parliament of Azerbaijan (1990-1995).

Since 1965 is living in Baku city. Worked in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In Spring 1992 to April 1993 works as a Minister of Interior in the government of Popular Front.

He was dismissed after the scandaleous story with a beating of Editor-in-Chief of "Istiqlal" newspaper. Since this moment (April 1993) and before his arrest (March 1995), he was busy exclusively by the Parliamentary and political activities. According to some public opinion polls, his personal rating as a politician was around the time of arrest more than 8%.

2. Political Affiliation

In 1991 Iskander Hamidov being a colonel-lieutenant of police became a member of Popular Front of Azerbaijan. His active opposition to the President A.Mutalibov made easy a coup d'etats of Spring 1992 and victory of PFA.

Being a prominent member of PFA, he established in 1992 the Azerbaijan National-Democratic Party of "Boz Qurd" ("Gray Wolf") and became its leader. In Spring 1993, "Boz Qurd" left PFA like some other parties. On December 26, 1993 was the constituent congress of the Party, which changed on July 11, 1995 its name to National-democratic Party of Azerbaijan. The total number of the members and supporters of it is unknown, and according some figures can be estimated in 4,000 people.

The Party has not a big ideological difference with PFA, and usually enters in the same political blocks. Since the last change of power (coup d'etat of June 4'93), it is in the opposition to the current country leadership.

It had been officially registered by the Ministry of Justice on March 29'94, but was deprived its registration on April 1'95, immediately after the arrest of its leader.

3. Details of Arrest

One day before the arrest, on March 16'95, I.Hamidov accompanying by 20 armed members of "Boz Qurd" reportedly visited the Mental Clinic #1 and released one patient, who was also a member of "Boz Qurd".

In the next day, he was arrested in Baku city without the preliminary permission of Parliament. It was given only on March 18'95.

The day of arrest coincided to the suppression of so called "March attept of coup" (March 13-17, 1995), and the fact of arrest was being related in the official media with these events.

There was begun the criminal case #20732 on the Articles 88-1 (embezzlement of public funds in the special big amount) and 168, parts 1,2 (exceeding an authority) of Crime Code.

4. Allegations on the Political Motives of Arrest

Some circumstancial and direct evidences indicate to the political motives of the case:

a. During the conference in the Presidental Staff on March 17'96, the Minister of National Security Namiq Abbasov mentioned the "Boz Qurd" Party as involved in the attempt of coup d'etat of March 13-17.

b. Two months later, during the "All-nation Meeting" of June 23-24, 1995, Namiq Abbasov stated about the involvement of "Boz Qurd" into the March events.

c. After these allegations, several members of "Boz Qurd" Party were reportedly arrested. For example, in one issue of opposition newspaper of "Azadliq" (March 23'95), which was entirely rejected by the political censorship, was reported about the arrests of 6 members of "Boz Qurd" in Yevlax region. During the above mentioned "All-nation Meeting", Minister of National Security informed about the arrest of the Party member Nureddin Yusifov.

d. The Ministry of Justice abolished a registration of "Boz Qurd" Party two weeks later the arrest of its leader on the decision of Supreme Court passed on March 31'95. Immediately, the newspaper of "Boz Qurd" was closed as founded by the Party. The deprivation of a registration was confirmed in early August 1995, before the Parliament elections.

e. The members of the Committee for the Protection of Rights of I.Hamidov, who stated about the political causes of his arrest, were harrassed by police. For example, in April 1995, Vice-Chairman of the Party, Baku State University reader Kerim Shukurov was arrested and detained several days. On May 8'95, six participants of hunger strike against the arrest I.Hamidov were arrested by the police and released 3 days later. In June 1995, other Vice-Chairman Qalandar Muxtarli was detained 8 hours by the officers of Main Police Directorate of Baku City because of interview given to the Radio Liberty.

f. Before the investigation was ended, advocate Ramiz Zeynalov defending the interests of I.Hamidov was arrested on August 3'95. He was accused of the resistance to policemen during the opposition meeting in September 1994 and released only in June 1996 because of amnesty.

Besides that, Hamidov was a Minister of previous government. According to the data of Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan, at least eleven former Ministers were persecuted since H.Aliyev became a President:

3 - sentenced to death (Muzamil Abdullayev, Rahim Qaziyev, Nariman Imranov),
2 - sentenced to imprisonment (Iskander Hamidov, Tofiq Huseynov),
3 - released but are under the trial (Abdulla Allahverdiyev, Tofiq Qasimov, Faxraddin Tahmazov),
2 - in exile (Suret Huseynov, Vaqif Huseynov),
1 - arrested (Panah Huseynov).

5. Investigation and Trial

The investigation on the case of I.Hamidov took more than 5 months. When it practically ended in early July 1995, the investigator Rasim Allahverdiyev was dismissed because he had removed the accusation of embezzlement. Then new investigator Rasim Qurbanov was appointed, and a term of investigation was prolonged till July 28.

Trial on the case of Iskander Hamidov started in the Supreme Court on September 7 and ended on September 15, 1995. The sessions were partially closed. The chairman of court was a member of SC Mansur Ibayev.

The bill of accusation against I.Hamidov included:
- embezzlement of public funds in the special big amount (400,000 USD);
- beating of the Editor-in-Chief of "Istiqlal" newspaper;
- interference to the arrest of murder policemen;
- illegal release of 701 prisoners for the departure to front line.

During the trial, there was brought in a verdict of guilty on first two items, i.e. on articles 88-1 and 255 "b" of Crime Code respectively. However, there are allegations that trial was unfair.

Before the trial, the official media had campaigned against the defendant. The advocate who defend Hamidov after the arrest was arrested himself in the eve of trial. Some witnesses like ex-President Abulfaz Elchibey and other former high officials were not interrogated on the case. The facsimile message #27/53 of May 5'95 which had been reportedly sent by the Chechenian leader Johar Dudayev and confirmed the cost of 150,000 USD was not checked.

The trial resulted of the sentence of 14-years imprisonment in Correcting Work Colony (CWC) of strengthen regime with a confiscation of defendant's property.

6. Conditions of Detention

According to the Art.376 of Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), a sentence comes into force 7 days later it has been passed. It must be executed forcedly (Art.377) under the control of Public Procurator (Art.380). So, I.Hamidov might be transported to the Colony already on September 22'95.

Refusal of Ministry of Justice to execute the Hamidov's sentence during 15 months means an unprecedented violation of national legislation.

From other hand, the Investigation Isolator (Prison) of Ministry of National Security is one of the prisons fully closed for the public control. In the contrary of the investigation prisons of Ministry of Internal Affairs, it has the one-man cells, where the prisoner is detained without the witnesses. Therefore, illegal detention in this prison gets a birth of the roumors about the plan of attempt to the Hamidov's life, which have some basis.

So, according to the statement of arrested Vice-Chairman of PFA, former commander of Lachin regiment Arif Pashayev, on April 16'94 was happened the attempt to poison him in this prison. The investigator gave him the cup of tea, and his state was worsened. After the necessary medical treatment was officially stated about the "dietetic gastritis". On July 12'94, in the same prison was the attempt of poisoning the former Vice-Minister of Defense Alakram Hummatov, who was arrested for the separatism. There was not even a semblance of investigation. Only in 1995, at least four political prisoners died in other investigation prisons: Shahmardan Jafarov (June 29'95), Nusret Budaqov (July 10'95) Seyfal Babayev (November 19'95), Aypara Aliyev (November 25'95). All of these cases were not satisfactory investigated.

Moreover, the condition of this prison is more hard than in the colony. He is detained 15 months in more strong regime than assigned by his sentence.

7. State of Health

According to the medical documents, I.Hamidov suffers by stomach sore. In the last time, some other illnesses added to this diagnosis: serious violations of vegetative mental activity, swoons. Ambulance was called several times to the prisoner. Last time an acute condition was recorded on December 18'96.

The main problem is that satisfactory medical treatment can be provided only by the Central Prison Hospital (ILU-6) in Boyuk Shor, which is submitted to the Ministry of Justice. Preliminary and obligatory condition is to transfer Hamidov to a CWC.

8. Conclusion

The case of Iskender Hamidov demonstrates the ignorance of all legal procedures, beginning from the unauthorized arrest and ending by the non-executed sentence. There was a transparent political interest of authorities masking by the non-political criminal accusations.

The continuing detention of Hamidov in the Investigation Prison of MNS is really dangerous for his health and life.

9. References

For getting some additional information, there can be used the following sources of information:
* Advocate Ramiz Zeynalov - tel. +994-12-942089/940935
* Committee for the Protection of Rights of I.Hamidov -
c/o Institute of Peace and Democracy
9, Rasul Rza Street
Baku 370000, Azerbaijan
Tel./fax +994-12-983173
E-mail: root@ipd.baku.az

10. About HRCA

The Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan (HRCA) is a non- governmental, non-political, non-profit organization created on May 1993. The main form of the work of HRCA is the monitoring of the human rights situation with the publication of the information bulletin, thematic reports, lists of political prisoners, etc.

Some publications of HRCA are available in the "Azerbaijan Resource Page" of Open Society Institute, in the section "Human Rights in Azerbaijan" for HRCA mailings. The URL address is: http://www.eurasianet.org/resource/azerbaijan/links/rights.shtml

Eldar Zeynalov,
Executive Director.