Police at Baku’s Narimanov district police station ordered Ibrahimov and Mammadov to publicly apologize, on camera, in front of the monument, in exchange for their release. When they refused, police beat them, forced them to take their pants off, and threatened to rape them with truncheons and bottles. Under duress, the men signed confessions to drug possession. When their lawyer was finally able to meet them two days later, he saw visible bruises on both men, who also complained of pain all over their bodies.
At the remand hearing, both activists retracted their forced confessions and complained of abuse and ill-treatment by law enforcement officers. The authorities failed to investigate the allegations of abuse, and instead charged them with drug-related crimes.
Mammadov ’s trial is still pending.
Ibrahimov’s conviction fits squarely into a well-established pattern of Azerbaijan’s authorities using false, politically motivated criminal charges to jail political and youth activists. Human Rights Watch documented at least 20 cases of similar arrests and convictions in 2016 alone. The authorities should release Ibrahimov immediately and unconditionally, and stop using false charges to lock up critics.