Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli’s sister and niblings have been found dead in their apartment. This happened at 2 Zeynalabdin Tagiyev Street, apartment 14 in the town of Zagatala.
The dead bodies found were Nurana Sabir gizi Mukhtarli who lived at that address with her little child and her brother Ramazan’s little daughter.
Afgan Mukhtarli’s brother Elshan Mukhtarli spoke to Meydan TV about the incident. He said that the corpses were discovered at about 2 pm on 31 December:
“They used their gas stove. They left it on at night and went to bed. There was strong wind, it made gas blow out, which they were not aware of, and gas filled the place.”
Elshan Mukhtarli said that when the incident happened, there was also Nurana’s other little kid in the apartment, and the kid survived.
Mukhtarli said the bodies were at the Zagatala District branch of the Anatomic Pathology Unit for a medical examination.
Afghan Mukhtarli has been informed about the incident. Mustafa Hajibayli, the editor-in-chief of Bastainfo website, said that Afghan Mukhtarli had contacted him: “Afgan Mukhtarli called me. He is devastated. He said: ‘Let my defense lawyers talk to the Penitentiary Service. I want to make it to the funeral’.”
Defense lawyer Elchin Sadigov has asked the Penitentiary Service to allow Afgan Mukhtarli to attend the funeral. The lawyer told Meydan TV that he was on his way to the Penitentiary Service and the latter had so far not given permission for Afgan Mukhtarli to attend the funeral.
Afgan Mukhtarli, who lived in Georgia on a residence permit, was arrested in Azerbaijan on 29 May. He says he was detained in Tbilisi, tortured, brought to the border by force and handed over to Azerbaijan. In addition, 10,000 euros were planted in his pocket.
The government of Azerbaijan accuses the journalist of using force against a government representative endangering their life and health in the line of duty (Article 315.2 of the Criminal Code). He faces up to three years in prison on these charges.
In addition, he is charged under Article 318.1 – crossing the state border without having relevant documents or crossing the state border bypassing checkpoints, and Article 206.1 – smuggling. Under Article 318.1, he faces a fine to the tune of 1,500 manats to 3,000 manats or imprisonment for up to two years. Under Article 206.1, he faces up to five years in prison.
International human rights organizations have named Afgan Mukhtarli a political prisoner.