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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Jailed Azerbaijan opposition leader given house arrest

Date of publication: 19 September, 2020

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The deputy chairman of the anti-government Musavat party, Tofig Yagublu was placed under house arrest.

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Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan on Friday released from prison a prominent opposition leader and placed him under house arrest, his lawyer said, while rights groups called for the politician's acquittal.

The deputy chairman of the anti-government Musavat party, Tofig Yagublu, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison earlier this month.

The leading opponent of strongman President Ilham Aliyev has denied hooliganism charges against him as politically motivated.

The court of appeals in the capital Baku "has ruled to transfer my client from prison to house arrest", his lawyer Elchin Sadykhov told AFP.

Human Rights Watch welcomed the move but urged the Caspian nation's government to overturn Yagublu's "bogus hooliganism conviction".

Read more: The erasure of Yarmouk: How the Assad regime is dismantling Syria's hub of Palestinian life

"He is innocent, the charges against him are false and they should be dropped altogether," Kety Abashidze, the officer for Eastern Europe of the Human Rights House Foundation, wrote on Twitter.

Prosecutors had accused Yagublu of physically assaulting a married couple in a car accident.

An ardent critic of Aliyev's rights record, Yagublu, 59, was sentenced in 2014 to five years in prison.

He served two years behind bars and was released in 2016 as part of an amnesty, along with 14 other jailed rights activists and opposition politicians.

Any display of public discontent and political dissent usually meets a tough government response in ex-Soviet Azerbaijan.

President Aliyev has ruled the energy-rich Caspian Sea nation since 2003, succeeding his father Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and communist-era leader.

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