- Published: 13 June 2016
by Oqtay Gulalıyev, Human Rights Defender
These days death and torture cases have increased in prisons and detention places in police stations in Azerbaijan. Last two years’ statistics show the increase level. What is interesting is that even though these death and torture facts clearly exist, no one has been punished for these facts. There has been no police or security or penitentiary official who has been punished for these facts, though these facts occurred in the institutions where these officials work and these crimes have been committed by them.
On 10 May, Qiyas Ibrahimov and Bayram Mammadov wrote on Haydar Aliyev’s statute which is located in the city center, “Happy Slave Holiday!” and due to this, they both were ill-treated and cruelly tortured in a police station which again increased urgency of the torture topic.
During last one year, prisoners Turaj Zeynalov, Parviz Mikayilov, and Elshad Babayev, accused persons Bahruz Hajiyev, Nurani Ibrahimov, Zaur Sultanov and others were cruelly beaten and tortured to death by state officials. Instead of punishing these criminals who committed these crimes, they were upgraded in their positions.
Death facts in prisons
Researches prove that last few years, some prisoners are tortured to death every year. These are cases that were publicized officially. There are even more torture and death cases which have not been publicized and were kept confidential. In most cases prisoners’ death is hidden or they are connected with other reasons. For example, the US State Department in its 2014 country report mentions that during that year, there were four death facts which were caused by torture. Let’s pay attention to torture and death facts in prisons during last two years:
1. Elşad Babayev’s death – the most terrible prisoner’s death in 2014 was the death of Elshad Babayev who was a prisoner in the prison b No. 14. Witnesses’ and Elshad Babyev’s sister’s word as well as pictures of his body prove that he was brutally tortured. One of the prisoners who witnessed his death spoke about his death in details: “Before the incident, Elshad was tortured in a punishment cell. His screams were heard from the medical center (there are two walls and 30 meters distance between the medical center and that cell). He could not bear tortures and died. Head of the entity Faig, head of the operation department Firdovsi and his deputy Tural, a prison guardians Vugar and Rahib and on top of all the head of the prison Ali Ibrahimov are responsible for this death. All these tortures happened because of 5 AZN.” The witness further states: “The prisoner did not deliver the amount of money that the head of prison Ali Ibrahimov required him to pay and this is equal to death. The result is certain now.”
Another witness of this crime is Yadigar Nuriyev who complained to the prosecutor office and claimed that Elshad was beaten to death. Last year in August he stated that he was ready to speak up and tell public how he witnessed Elshad Babayev being tortured to death. After these statements were published in media, Y. Nuriyev was forcibly and mysteriously moved to a medical center and after one week he died with “heart attack” diagnoses. There are words about how he was pressured in prison No. 14 to change his testimony about Elshad Babyev’s death before his death (or murder).
Yadigar Nuriyev’s statements were published on 26 August 2015 publication of the Yeni Musavat newspaper with the title of “Interesting statements appeared regarding a killed prisoner” and subtitle of “When I got in they were kicking him and hitting him with baton”
After torture and death of the prisoner in prison No. 14, other inmates protested this injustice. They required investigation of E Babayev’s death. After a few days passed from the incident, on 26 December at 5:00 AM, special troops of the Penitentiary Service attacked the prison. All the inmates were cruelly beaten and tortured. Prisoners Araz Guliyev (political prisoner, journalist – red.), Miryusif Seyidov, Anar Gasimli and few other prisoners were beaten and they were taken to Special Medical Center (Trubzon) to be tortured. After they were taken to the Center, they were brutally tortured under watch of Nizami Quliyev, the head of the Center. Although their families complained to different state bodies, they were tortured and kept hungry for almost a month. They were not allowed to meet their lawyers and relatives. After the case had become public and different international organizations, including International Red Cross Committee interfered, they were transferred to Gobustan Close Prison. However, despite all these facts, criminal case over Elshad Babayev’s death was closed soon after and the expert opinion determined the reason of the death as a “heart attack.”
After the death of the prisoner, the head of prison No. 14 Ali Ibrahimov was
upgraded to colonel rank. It is not clear which criteria was taken into account while Ali Ibrahimov was upgraded. It is certain that death happened in the prison under his authority.
Ali Ibrahimov’s name is in international organizations reports on torture. Last year, “Azerbaijan Without Political Prisoners” public alliance published its report named “Current situation in prisons, problem of political prisoners and works to be done.” In this report, the alliance 21 officials who torture prisoners. 18th in the list is Ali Ibrahimov.
After E.Babayev’s death, the Garadagh District Prosecutor Office commenced a criminal case under article 309.1, abuse of power, of the Criminal Code. This is how the Garadagh District Prosecutor’s Office characterized E.Babayev’s death caused by torture. Later, the case was taken away from the Garadagh Prosecutor’s Office and given to the Baku City Prosecutor’s Office. However, there was no fair investigation in latter entity as well. Therefore, the case was investigated in a higher instance body. However, the investigation conducted by the General Prosecution Office did not differ from others. Therefore, it seems upgrade of A.Ibrahimov was connected with his torture activities against Elshad Babayev and murder of him as well as Yadigar Nuriyev, who was a major witness in Elshad’s case.
Gurban Mammadov, who was in prison No.14 then as a political prisoner, states that Elshad Babayev died as a result of cruel beatings: “The investigation process “proved” the opposite.” Brutality against the prisoners is going on. Therefore, the prisons should be paid more public attention and these places should be open for journalists and parents of inmates.
Instant replacement of the prisoners and the mysterious death...
Prisoner Nurani Ibrahimov was killed in prison No.6. His father Fuad Ibrahimov and other witnesses gave information about that as well as photos prove it. His father states: “Nurani was tortured to death. Everybody knows that. Even though they try to hide it, photos which we have prove it he was tortured.” The family of Nurani Ibrahimov, who was killed in prison No.6 on February 12, confirm it. According to father Fuad Ibrahimov, Nurani was kept in prison No.2 before. Suddenly he was transferred to prison No. 6. His father says they did not know who ordered his transfer: “He was suddenly transferred to prison No.6 from prison No.2. He had been there for three or four days. We went to prison No.6 as soon as we heard of his transfer. We took him some clothes and food. They said no food was allowed because there was everything to eat. We asked at least to take the clothes. They said there was no need for that as well because the prison had a good heating system.”
On their way back home, Nurani’s family heard about his death. This news both disappointed and surprised the family. Because since Nurani was in the prison, he had never complained of his health conditions or any pressure against him. But after he was transferred to prison No.6, his family neither could see him nor could talk to him. Nurani’s father claims that in order to hide a real reason of his death they try to spread misinformation about him: “They say as if he swallowed narcotics and it got opened in his stomach. My son was a practicing believer since he was 13. He kept practicing religion in the prison. He had never been involved in dirty business. He was kicked, beaten, injured and he could not bear pressure and died. There are photographs, all the signs in his body are signs of kick.”
Nurani’s uncle Akif Ibrahimov also confirmed the fact of torture: “There were bruises in his body and it was very clear that our son was beaten to death. We want this case to be cleared and those who committed this crime are punished.”
Signs in Nurani’s body
Death cases in police stations.
Bahruz Hajiyev’s death – Death cases occur not only in prisons but also in police stations. The sample of that is a mysterious death that happened in the Mingechevir Police Station on 20 August 2015. Bahruz Hajiyev was suspected in commerce and use of narcotics and arrested by policemen. Death occurred in one of the offices of the police station after he was brought there. According to the information of the police station, while B.Hajiyev was interrogated on the third floor, he threw himself out of the window and committed suicide. However, there are some inexplicable nuances in this information. Hajiyev’s relatives and the witnesses of the incident contradict this information. Torture signs on Hajiyev’s body brings clarity to the issue. Hajiyev’s father Dilsuz Hajiyev says that Bahruz was forced into the police car in the street and brought into the police station. He watched security camera records and states that his son did not resist policemen when he got into the police station. Policemen had personal search on him in the police station and then they tortured him to death. Seeing this the policemen got panicked and they threw his body from the third floor in order to imitate suicide.
Hajiyev’s father calls police’s information lie and states that his son was tortured in the police station. He even stressed that there were electroshock signs on his son’s body which is strictly kept confidential by the police. Hajiyev’s father says that he applied to different bodies, knocked all the possible door regarding the torture fact: “I am tired of applying. My son was killed in the police station and his case is not investigated. There were black signs of electroshock on his body but they do not want this to be public. I complained about the prosecutor office and they send my complaint to the prosecutor office to review and consider. How is that possible? What should I do? Whom should I complain? They wasted my son.”
Rashad Mehdiyev is from the Sumgayit City and he died in the Sumgayit City Police Station on 29 April. His relatives say that he was tortured and killed. His brother states: “on 27 April at 11:00 PM policemen came to our street and forcing him into the car they took him. One day after we heard that he was in the Sumgayit Hospital under serious care. And in one more day he died.”
Elshen Mehdiyev stressed that his 37 year old brother Rashad Mehdiyev was taken to the Sumgayit Police station where he was tortured. Even though they took him to the hospital, two days after, on 29 April, he died: “One day after we found Rashad in the Sumgayit city. He was under serious care. The doctors said that in the early morning, he was brought by the emergency car from the Sumgayit Police. There were injures in his head. He was diagnosed with brain trauma. His condition is serious. We went to the police station to find out what happened. They told us that Rashad fell down at night, after he was brought to the police station and hit his head on trash can.
Elshan Mehdiyev stressed that his brother had torture signs on his body and he especially got injured on his head: “we took photos and he has clear sign of torture on his body.” His family members stated that he was tortured in the police station and as a result of injures he got on his head, he died in the hospital.
Accused Zaur Sultanov’s death happened on 12 May 2016 in police department No. 1 under the Khazar Region Police Station. His father Sakhavat Sultanov stressed that his son was tortured to death by the policemen: “It is terrible. They took him from home quite in a good shape. In 30 minutes he lied dead in the police department’s courtyard. My young son was killed by them… now in order to hide their own crime, they try to manipulate and say as if my son died from heart attack.”
According to the information of the prosecutor office, Zaur Sultanov fell down from the chair in the police courtyard and died. But Sultanov’s family does not agree with this statement. They demand General Prosecutor Zakir Garalov and Minister of Internal Affairs Ramil Usubov to provide fair investigation of the case.
Above mentioned cases are some part of the deaths caused by torture during last two years. It is unfortunate that no one has been accused for these crimes. The increased number of death cases in prisons are indicator of impunity and corruption. Local and international organizations show more interest to these kind of death cases and the government should fulfill its duties and prevent this arbitrariness and investigate abuse of power by officials, prohibit tortures and implement urgent reforms.