- Published: 15 December 2016
Elgiz Gahraman is a member of the pro-opposition NIDA youth movement, which is active on social media that is highly critical of the government. Police detained Gahraman in the center of the capital Baku on 12 August and took him to the Organized Crime Unit at the Interior Ministry. After allegedly discovering 3.315 grams of heroin on him, the authorities charged Gahraman with illegal drug possession in large quantity with an intention to sell under criminal code article 234.4.3. For 5 days, the authorities have prevented a lawyer retained by Gahraman’s parents from meeting with him and did not provide information about his whereabouts to the lawyer or to Gahraman’s parents. On 15 August, it emerged that Elgiz Gahramanov had been sentenced to a four months in pre-trial detention under drug charges. If convicted, Gahraman could face up to 12 years in prison. His case is totally trumped up and is another retaliation against the NIDA Movemnet, which has at least 4 other members still behind bars on bogus charges. Azerbaijan has a history of using bogus drug charges against NIDA and other youth activists to stop them from criticizing the government.
Court case details:
On 9 December 2016, Baku Grave Crimes Court, chaired by Judge Azad Majidov, held a preliminary hearing on the criminal case against NIDA Movement member Elgiz Gahramanov.
Gahramanov stands charged under Article 234.4.3 of the Criminal Code (illegal purchase or possession, with a view to selling, manufacturing, processing, transportation, transfer or selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in a large amount). He was sentenced to four months in pre-trial detention by Narimanov District Court.
Since both of his lawyers, Nemat Karimli and Fariz Namazli, were out of the country, the Court provided a public attorney. However, Gahraman rejected the state-assigned attorney and asked the Court to postpone the hearing until his own defence counsels were back.
Public prosecutor Abisalam Heydarov did not object to the defendant’s request. He highlighted the importance of legal representation at the preliminary hearing. The prosecutor noted that as the defendant rejected his court-appointed lawyer, the hearing had to be held with the participation of his own lawyers if he so desired.
The preliminary court hearing was postponed until 14 December.