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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ex-oil chief indicted

BAKU 10–10–2006 Baku Sun - A former oil executive has been charged in connection with an alleged coup plot in Azerbaijan last year, his lawyer said on 29 September. Separately, an American lawyer for Rafiq Aliyev said authorities had violated Azerbaijani law and international human rights norms in the case. Aliyev was charged on 28 September with involvement in what Azerbaijani officials say was a plot to overthrow President Ilham Aliyev, said his lawyer, Rafiq Quliyev. Rafiq Aliyev is former chief of the private oil company Azpetrol and brother of former Economic Development Minister Farhad Aliyev, one of a dozen people arrested before parliamentary elections last November in connection with the alleged plot. The opposition says the arrests were part of an effort by the government to manipulate the vote, which Western observers criticized as flawed. The Aliyev brothers, who are not related to the president, were both arrested last October, but Rafiq Aliyev had not been charged with participation in the plot. He had previously been charged on three unrelated counts, including smuggling, Quliyev said. Meanwhile, Farhad Aliyev denounced accusations against him as unfounded in a statement from prison released by his lawyers, and said that he had been subjected to blackmail and “psychological pressure” while in custody. Authorities accuse an opposition leader living in exile, Rasul Guliyev, of masterminding the alleged coup plot. Charles Both, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer for Farhad and Rafiq Aliyev, said the authorities have violated both Azerbaijani law and international human rights norms. “My clients’ right to have a fair and free and effective remedy ... has been violated. My clients’ right to freedom from discrimination on political grounds has clearly been violated,” Both told a news conference. He said authorities had violated the presumption of innocence by referring to the accused as criminals even though they have not been tried. Both said he arrived in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, on 25 September and appealed to the prosecutor general’s office the same day with a request to meet with his clients, but received no response.

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