I was in front of the court, but couldn't manage to enter the room where the hearing was held. It was already too overcrowded and many journalists and international observers were left otside as well. However, what seemed a bad luck, was also a blessing - as the judge ordered journalists who were inside not to cover, film, tape or record the process, the only people who could timely report were those outside. Here is my report from outside the court with some new details in the background section.
Emin (left) and Adnan (right) - photos from RFE/RL Azeri websiteBackground
Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were assaulted, severely beaten and then detained while dining in a downtown Baku restaurant with friends on 8 July. The office of Azerbaijan Ombudsman has found significant violations in Emin and Adnan's detention: they had been refused decent medical assistance, the detention protocols contained false information that as if they had criminal past, and these protocols were not presented to the detainees, which is itself a violation of basic laws. Two days later, on 10 July, the Sabail court headed by Justice Rauf Ahmedov gave them two-month pretrial detention for allegedly committing hooliganism.
Since the arrest, five non-duplicate cases have been brought before the judge - one by state prosecution, the rest by Emin, Adnan and their parents. Two cases by bloggers had reached appeal courts, but were both rejected. Adnan Hajizade's father's case, due to be heard on 4 September too, was delayed because the judge decided to go on vacation and the court managed to inform his lawyers on the day of would-be hearing (sic!).
The official investigation of Emin and Adnan's "hooliganism" was concluded on 22 August (sic - it took more than 40 days!) and was sent to the court, and on 4 September, the judge Araz Huseynov presided over the preparatory session.
Outside the court
When I arrived in the court, there was a closed van parked in front of the building. I guessed that this monstrous van was used to bring detainees - it had no windows in its sides, only window in the front for driver, and blackened windows in the rear. Here is the photo of the van:
Then, unexpectedly for me I saw Adnan - two judiciary officers took him out of the van and led directly into court house. After a few minutes, they took Emin. And I noticed a soldier.
People tried to enter the court but officials and guards closed the way and told us that the courtroom is overcrowded. I could catch a glimpse of the room - it was very small (and overcrowded in a sense that all seats were occupied). I even thought that they could have chosen the smallest one in the building!
Many local and foreign journalists and international observers were left outside. Even for the representative of EU in Azerbaijan to be allowed in, her translator had to make a small scandal. Then we learned that lawyers filed a motion to put additional chairs in the room for observers and journalists, but the judge rejected it. In general, almost all motions by lawyers were rejected. Judge didn't allowed journalists to tape or record the process either. Therefore, only those outside were the one could report live.
After a while one local cameraman left the courtroom to make a way for arriving international observers (anyway, he couldn't film the process). As people inside had to switch off their mobile phones, from him did come our first news:
There followed a relatively long period without updates and then the court took a break to consider all the motions by lawyers. And here was the most controversial moment - as lawyers refused to speak (especially Adnan's lawyer is too arrogant), we had to rely on witnesses again, and as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? once showed and proved, audience could err pretty much.
The witnesses told us that one of the initial "victims" suddenly claimed that he was the owner of "Lebanese" - a downtown restaurant where bloggers were beaten. It was told by several witnesses as a shock revelation for before it was claimed that the "victims" were refugees living in a dorm. Thus I tweeted:
Reflecting on witnesses who had impression that there was a cooperation between the judge, prosecutor and the aforementioned "slumdog millionaire" victim, I sent my next tweet:
However, after the court finished, and all legal experts came out, it was evident that audience had erred. The aforementioned "victim" was a complete, brand new one brought just to the court. The third victim never heard of before. He was the owner of the restaurant and claimed material liabilities from Emin and Adnan for alleged damage to his property. Thus I sent my last tweet from the court with disclaimer "Don't cite my tweet[s] yet, some inconsistencies":
Court ended with rejection of all motions by defense lawyers. The first hearing will be heard on 16 September in the same place, if not in a smaller room. I apologize for the misinformation as described above.