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Azerbaijan court partially overturns journalist's convictions

The Azerbaijani Supreme Court [official website, in Azeri] on Thursday partially overturned the convictions of imprisoned Azeri journalist Enyulla Fatullayev. The court vacated [RFE/RL report] Fatullayev's convictions for committing defamation and inciting terror and ethnic hatred and ruled that his sentence for tax evasion is complete. The ruling comes one month after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] affirmed [APA report] its prior decision [judgment text; JURIST report] ordering Fatullayev's release because his convictions and eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence contravene Article 10, Freedom of Speech and Information, and Article 6, Right to a Fair Trial, of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. Fatullayev will remain in prison, however, as the court found that the ECHR order does not apply to a separate two-and-a-half-year drug sentence that many regard as an attempt to prolong [CPJ reports] his incarceration. Elchin Sadiqov, Fatullayev's lawyer, announced his intentions to appeal for his client's immediate release.

In 2009, Fatullayev received, in absentia, one of Committee to Project Journalist's (CPJ) prestigious International Press Freedom Awards [press release; video] and AI's Award for Journalism Under Threat [BBC report]. Fatullayev, who was editor-in-chief of the Realny Azerbaijan and Gundalik Azerbaijan newspapers until his imprisonment, formerly worked with well-known Azeri journalist Elmar Huseynov [BBC backgrounder] on the Monitor magazine until Huseynov was murdered [BBC report] in 2005. CPJ reported recently that Fatuallyev's imprisonment could be related to his attempts to solve [report] his colleague's murder. Azerbaijan's incumbent president Ilham Aliyev has been accused by members of the press of heavy-handed repression of the media [JURIST report].

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