Seymur Hazi was arrested on August 29 last year, (he also uses the name Haziyev), a reporter for the opposition newspaper Azadliq, a leading anchor for critical satellite “Azerbaijan Saati” (Azerbaijani Hour) TV program and a seniour politician with the popular Front Party of Azerbaijan. He is accused of hooliganism and alleged that that he had attacked a man at a bus stop. The day after his arrest, the Absheron District Court ordered the journalist to be imprisoned for two months pending trial.
At the trial in Absheron District Court on November 11, the journalist’s lawyer requested that the judge be disqualified because authorities continued to hold Hazi even though his pretrial detention had expired. The judge denied the request.
Authorities said that while waiting for a bus on his way to work, Hazi attacked and beat a Baku resident named Magerram Hasanov.
Hazi said in court that he had scuffled with Hasanov, but in self-defense. He said Hasanov insulted and attacked him. Elton Guliyev, the journalist’s lawyer believes that authorities had orchestrated the altercation because the police arrived just moments after it started.
Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan following his arrest made a statement saying “the party beleived that Seymur Hazi had been imprisoned in retaliation for his critical journalistic activities.
Seymur Hazi’s trial has been ongoing in late 2014 and early 2015.
Seymur Hazi often criticized the Azerbaijani government’s domestic and foreign policies in his articles for Azadliq. As a host for online TV program “Azerbaijan Saati” (Azerbaijani Hour), he was critical of government corruption and human rights abuses in the country.
The authorities do not explain why they had jailed Seymur Hazi instead of employing less harsh sanctions against him. He is being held at Baku Investigative Prison No. 1 outside Baku, which is widely known as the Kurdakhani pre-trial detention facility.
Authorities arrested Hasanov, the other participant in the altercation, a few days later, but put him under house arrest. When the journalist requested similar treatment, the court refused. Hasanov has since been jailed again.