Christoph Strässer, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (19 March) following the conviction of Azerbaijani opposition leaders Ilgar Mammadov and Tofiq Yagublu:
“I am greatly concerned by the harsh prison sentences imposed on two Azerbaijani opposition leaders on 17 March. The serious breaches of procedure documented by international observers during the trial of Ilgar Mammadov and Tofiq Yagublu reinforce the impression that it is politically motivated act. As a result the conditions for oppositional activity and civic engagement in Azerbaijan have deteriorated further.
I call upon the Azerbaijani Government to ensure that all standards for a fair trial in accordance with the rule of law are upheld for appeal proceedings in the case against Ilgar Mammadov and Tofiq Yagublu.”
On 17 March 2014 an Azerbaijani court sentenced Ilgar Mammadov, leader of the opposition movement “ReAl” and former presidential candidate, and Tofiq Yagublu, Deputy Chairman of the “Musavat” party, to seven and five years imprisonment respectively, ostensibly for organising violent mass protests. The two politicians were arrested in February 2013 following an information trip to the Azerbaijani city of Ismayilli. Before their visit, on 23 and 24 January 2013, riots had broken out among the local population in Ismayilli.