Azerbaijani human rights defender Elchin Mammad was sentenced to four years in prison on 14 October. He was arrested on 30 March on trumped up charges of theft and illegal possession of weapons and has remained behind bars since. Elchin Mammad is appealing the conviction. He is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.
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I am writing to call for the immediate and unconditional release of prisoner of conscience, human rights lawyer and media reporter Elchin Mammad. On 14 October, the Sumgait City Court sentenced Elcin Mammad to four years in prison on trumped-up charges of theft and illegal possession of weapons (Articles 177.2.4 and 228.1 of the Criminal Code). He appealed his sentence on 3 November, however the court has not yet set the date for his appeal hearing.
Police arrested Elchin Mammad in his house in the city of Sumgait on 30 March, a few days after he had published online a critical report on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. They claimed that stolen jewellery had been found in Elchin Mammad’s office and took him to the Sumgait city police station. While he was in detention, prosecution brought new charges against him of illegal weapons possession. Elchin Mammad believes police planted stolen jewelry and weapons in his office, while searching it in his absence. On 31 March, Sumgait City Court remanded Elchin Mammad in custody for three months as a criminal suspect, which was extended several times pending his trial.
For years, Elchin Mammad has faced harassment from the authorities in connection with his human rights work. In 2015, his organization was investigated, he was subjected to arbitrary detention, placed under travel restrictions, repeatedly summoned by police for questioning. His sentencing on trumped up charges is a part of the continuing relentless crackdown on all dissent in Azerbaijan which must stop.
I urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure Elchin Mammad’s immediate and unconditional release and that his unfounded prosecution ends; and end the ongoing abuse of the country’s criminal justice system for persecution of government critics and human rights defenders.