Fri, 22 Jan 2021

BAKU -- A prosecutor has asked a court in Baku to imprison a member of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AXCP) for failing to comply with coronavirus precautions and 'spreading the disease.'

The prosecutor on November 30 asked the Sabuncu district court to sentence Mahammad Imanli to 18 months in prison.

Imanli rejected the charge, saying a police statement noting he was detained on July 20 was false.

He insists he was detained on July 16 and kept in a police station for four days, during which he was interrogated regarding his participation in unsanctioned rallies in Baku in support of the country's armed forces amid an escalation of military tensions with neighboring Armenia.

Imanli's relatives were informed that the verdict and sentence will be pronounced on December 1.

Imanli is one of almost 50 AXCP members arrested in July after the rallies in support of the military.

Investigators have said that during the unsanctioned rallies in mid-July, AXCP activists clashed with police, injuring some of them, and also upended private vehicles and damaged the parliament building.

Many of the activists who were detained were charged with damaging private property, attacking law enforcement officers, and disrupting public order.

Dozens of AXCP members have been arrested, and some imprisoned, in recent years on what their supporters have called trumped-up charges.

Opponents of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Western countries, and international human rights groups say his government has persistently persecuted critics, political foes, independent media outlets, and civic activists.

Aliyev denies any rights abuses. He took power in 2003 shortly before the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and communist-era leader who had ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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