The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Azerbaijan must pay the family of journalist Novruzali Mammadov €24,000 in compensation for his death in prison, the Caucasian Knot reports.
Novruzali Mammadov was the chief editor of the newspaper Talyshi Sado [Voice of the Talysh] and a head of a Talysh cultural centre in Azerbaijan.
In 2008 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of collaborating with Iranian intelligence services.
In August 2009 he died in a prison hospital. Mammadov was recognised by international human rights organizations as a political prisoner.
The Talysh are a national minority of Iranian origin in Azerbaijan. Official data puts their numbers at about half a million. They live mainly in the south of the country, on the border with Iran. In 1993, Colonel Alakram Gummatov proclaimed the Talysh-Mugan Republic in the same area. The separatist movement was quickly crushed by the then-President Heydar Aliyev, and Gummatov was sentenced to life imprisonment, but then pardoned. He now lives in the Netherlands. Since that time, the authorities periodically conduct “anti-separatist checks”, and Mammadov’s case was presented as another link in this chain of events.
Details of the arrest and death of Novruzali Mammadov
Investigators said that during a trip to Iran, Mammadov received $15,000 to publish his newspaper.
He was then sentenced to 10 years in prison.
A member of the Talysh community, Hilal Mammadov, said at the time that the case was fabricated and “the special services of Azerbaijan were carrying out ‘prevention measures’ so that national minorities would not fight for their rights.”
Novruzali Mammadov suffered from heart failure, hypertension and other diseases.
At the end of July 2009, his condition rapidly deteriorated. At the insistence of international organizations, he was transferred to a prison hospital, but was not released. On 17 August 2009 he died.
His relatives later filed a complaint with the ECHR.
The ECHR ruled that a number of articles were violated in Mammadov’s case: the right to life, the inadmissibility of torture and inhumane treatment, the right to liberty and personal integrity, and the right to trial within reasonable time.
The lawyer representing the interests of the plaintiffs said he was not fully satisfied with the verdict. In particular, by the fact that the ECHR did not rule that Mammadov had been discriminated against based on ethnicity.
Mammadov’s widow now lives in the Netherlands.