Friday, September 11

Aliyev is suing French channel for calling him a despot

But President Aliyev is forgetting that France isn't Azerbaijan and while in Azerbaijan he can hire and buy out a whole court and prosecutor office to do as he pleases, things don't work the same way in France.

Last week, French TV aired an investigative piece (to me also work of art) about President Aliyev, his by now mastered caviar diplomacy, the country's corruption levels and poor rights record. Cash Investigation- the brain behind the show and its host, French journalist Elise Lucet was able to attend the opening gala of a photo exhibition ironically titled "Azerbaijan- the land of tolerance". Not only Lucet was able to attend the opening but she also was able to ask few questions to Mehriban Aliyev who was there (of course how could she not!) as the head of Heydar Aliyev Foundation who also happened to be the chief sponsor of the event.

Here is brief conversation:

Elise Lucet: Is your country really a land of tolerance?
Mehriban Aliyeva: Land of tolerance? Of course, it is. 
Elise Lucet: Because you have many political prisoners in jail right now in Azerbaijan.
Mehriban Aliyeva: It is not true. Just get correct information.
Elise Lucet: Do you know Leyla Yunus [repeats the question twice] or Khadija Ismayilova? They are in jail! They have been sentenced from 7.5 to 8.5 years in jail.

Needles to say, Lucet shortly after [like within seconds] was kicked all the way to the back of the crowd because security [of course] didnt like the questions. Even if Lucet tried explaining to the security that she is French journalist and that this was France the security was quick to say "This was not a press conference". He then asked her to "Please be silent [repeating it a few times] Be quiet!"

Anyhow, you can watch the whole show, and you are in luck especially if you are French speaker.

Turns out, the ruling family was unhappy about this encounter and the show so they hired Olivier Pardo to represent Azerbaijan. Padro turns to be the right person for the job. He already said the program while accusing Azerbaijan of being "strictest dictatorship" failed to present evidence. Looks like Padro also missed the whole episode or maybe didn't listen to the facts in the show. But then it is not surprising, because Padro also represented Equatorial Guinea in France in a case known as "ill-gotten gains" when anti-corruption NGOs managed to launch an investigation into the cases of three African leaders' names mentioned in large- scale fraud. Representing that case, Pardo said, "the case of the "ill-gotten gains" violated international law and that he would contest the case and pursue France through the international courts".  

Sadly that investigation didn't lead to concrete results as French Court stopped short of making a ruling saying an NGO Transparency International "could not itself bring a complaint against three African heads of state". 

Pardo's list of clients is full of "murky" figures. He also represented Imad Lahoud, computer specialist whose name popped up in an corruption investigation in France; Carlos Vejarano, the manager of the Arros Island in Seychelles, and used as tax heaven- and these are just a few based on a short google search.

So Pardo has a record of representing a certain kind of clients so it should come as no surprise he also took on the case of Aliyevs, who also fall perfectly well into this category. 

The question now is will this case actually receive any attention in France? So far French TV channel has not responded and many see this as a "warning". But warning to whom? To all international investigative organizations and independent television? 

Aliyev must really have forgotten what independent journalism is having silenced his own journalists...

Tuesday, August 11

A little more than just obscene hand gesture

So turns out soccer player Javid Huseynov whose name is directly linked [for now at least] to the death of journalist Rasim Aliyev didn't just wave a Turkish flag at the game between Azerbaijan's Gebele and Cypriot Apollon Limassol game on August 6. 

There were already tensions before the game between the teams and special requests were made to keep the tension low and hope for a friendly match. 

That didn't happen. 

One rumor circulating online was that at some point during the game Apollon's fans allegedly attempted at burning down Azerbaijani flag. 

Then there is the player Javid's pumped fist right after his score during penalty time.

Also, as if the fist wasn't enough, Javid waved the Turkish flag during the game. And when a local journalist asked about the flag Javid snapped, making another gesture and leaving hastily. 

Apollon Limasson hoped that UEFA will ban the player and punish the team but no such thing happened. Javid remained on the team while the team itself didn't get even a warning. Just a little side not here: Azerbaijan is preparing to host UEFA European under 17 Championship in 2016 and is bidding to host and on September 19th 2014, the Baku Olympic Stadium won the right to host one of the quarter-final matches and three group stage matches of Euro 2020 which will unfold across 13 UEFA member countries. Not to mention its other sporting events the country is ready to host.

But back to Rasim's case there are few more interesting details.

While Rasim was at the hospital Javid and the team's manager came to visit him. Javid said the person who called Rasim had no relationship to him but when Rasim asked "how come he knew that we just talked over the phone" the soccer player was stuck. When the police walked into the hospital room for questioning the two left the room immediately. 

Then there is the interview with Rasim's girlfriend who said that the whole medical report presented by the hospital doctor is fake. And here is why: 

"The doctor claims Rasim was taken into surgery 8pm local time. But we talked on the phone at 8.10 local time [either our surgeons are using the state of the art operating technology - which would still make an operation under 10 minutes purely impossible - or they have developed some kind of super human powers - but that too is irrelevant since they would at least be able to fake the report better]. 

The doctor also said Rasim as admitted to the hospital at 7pm, but that is also not true because already around 6 Rasim called me. He told me that he is at the hospital and that I should tell his parents". 

The whole hospital scene raises many questions and not just the timing. 

Rasim suffered from for broken ribs, and ruptured spleen. He was bleeding internally but no one seemed to be too keen on conducting thorough body examination. He was then placed in a normal hospital room, without any doctor supervision only pumped with painkillers. 

So it was natural that hours after the sedation of painkillers was gone Rasim was in much pain. 

According to Rasim's girlfriend and friends who were with Rasim at the hospital at the time, he was taken into operating room only at around 2am after which it was too late to do anything.  

So who is responsible? 

Probably not just the doctor, the soccer player and his relatives. 

Rasim was threatened before. On July 26, he asked for help via Facebook having faced threats online and not knowing what to do. Despite his appeal for help and protection, police refused to help.

In the meantime, Limassol team issued a statement, expressing deep sorrow adding the following:
“Unfortunately, our fears and deep concerns, regarding the unsportsmanlike behaviour of Javid Huseynov, which we conveyed in the most official way to the European Football Association after the first match in Cyprus in July 30, were confirmed in the most tragic way”.
Since the murder, Javid Huseynov was finally detained on August 11 and is charged with "withholding information while knowing of murder". If convicted the soccer player is facing fine in the amount of 5,000AZN and could be jailed for 2 or 3 years. Yes, just that - a man's life is lost, gone forever, and all the soccer player is getting is that.

Stay tuned for more updates on the case.