Azerbaijani Politics 12 september — 15:12

Fuad Alasgarov about Lapshin case, Mehman Aliyev and Nardaran prisoners

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Assistant to the President for Work with Law Enforcement Bodies and Military Issues, Head of Department Fuad Alasgarov gave an extensive interview to Azerbaijan State News Agency. In particular, in his interview Fuad Alasgarov commented on the legal aspects of pardoning Alexander Lapshin, changing the preventive measure against Mehman Aliyev, as well as the early release of convicts of the Nardaran case.

 

Q. Mr Alasgarov, pardon of Alexander Lapshin and release from arrest of the head of the Turan Information Agency, Mehman Aliyev are some of the most discussed issues in recent days. How would you comment on these decisions?

A. The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr Ilham Aliyev always confirms his commitment to the ideas and principles of humanism in his work.

I would like to recall that on February 10, 2017, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan signed an Order on the humanisation of the policy of punishment and expansion of the practice of using alternative measures of punishment not related to isolation from society. The purpose of this Order is to reduce the number of sentences related to deprivation of liberty and to create conditions for the correction of convicts without their isolation from society.

On the other hand, numerous acts of pardon and amnesty are also part of this humane policy. As is known, from 2003 to the present time, 5 acts of amnesty were adopted, which covered about 54 thousand people. During the same period, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan signed 31 pardons, which were applied to more than 3,800 convicts. Among the persons released under these orders were also journalists and bloggers convicted of committing various common crimes. That is, questions of pardon are at the centre of attention of the head of state; on his instructions the Pardon Commission constantly considers the appeals of convicts. This is a dynamic process.

The pardon of Alexander Lapshin should also be regarded as yet another humane step. In general, as applied to Alexander Lapshin, two legal procedures were considered in parallel: the issue of his transfer to Israel, of which he is a citizen, to serve his sentence, and the issue of his pardon. Taking into account Lapshin's confession that he sincerely repents his crime and claims that he recognises the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, made by him during the trial and in appeals to the President of Azerbaijan, and also taking into account his marital status, especially the presence of a young child, Mr President considered it possible to pardon him, and in this connection he signed an appropriate order.

Q. After the signing of this act, does the issue of Lapshin's extradition to Israel remain on the agenda?

A. I would like to make clarifications in respect of your question. A number of media outlets distributed information that after signing the pardon act, Alexander Lapshin will be extradited or transferred to another country. However, there is confusion with legal concepts. Since Alexander Lapshin was pardoned, the issue of his transfer to another country was removed from the agenda. According to international conventions, the purpose of transferring a convicted person to another country is to ensure that the person is serving a sentence in the country of which he is a citizen. After Mr President pardoned Alexander Lapshin, he was released from the unserved part of his punishment and can absolutely freely determine where to go.

According to the information we have, Lapshin wishes to go to Israel, whose citizen he is. He is healthy, he does not have any health problems, and at any time, when he wants, he can go to Israel.

Q. What can you say about the release of Mehman Aliyev from arrest?

A. Mehman Aliyev personally appealed to the head of state on the question of replacing the preventive measure chosen for him in the form of arrest. Again, guided by the principles of humanism, Mr President immediately expressed his attitude to this appeal and recommended considering the possibility of changing the chosen preventive measure in the form of arrest. Here I would like to emphasise that the appeal of the head of state to the prosecutor's office and judicial bodies on this issue did not have the form of instructions, but had a recommendatory character.

In fact, the release of Mehman Aliyev from custody, as well as the decisions taken recently on parole of a number of persons convicted in connection with the Nardaran events, are the practical implementation of humane ideas and principles laid down in the President's Order of February 10, 2017. As shown by the statistical calculations carried out after the adoption of this Order, the number of persons arrested during investigation decreased by 30 per cent.

I should note that the work on the execution of the instructions given in this Order continues to this day. So, for these purposes, amendments to the Criminal Code have been prepared, which the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan has already sent to the Milli Majlis (Parliament). Work on changes to the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Execution of Penalties is nearing completion. It is planned that changes to all three codes will come into force at the same time.

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