Azerbaijanis Sentenced In High-Profile Mass-Disorder Case

By RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

March 17, 2014

SAKI, Azerbaijan -- In Azerbaijan, sentences have been handed down to two leading opposition figures in a high-profile mass-disorder case. 

A court in the northern city of Saki on March 17 sentenced Ilqar Mammadov, head of the Republican Alternative movement, to seven years in prison, and Tofiq Yaqublu, deputy head of the Musavat (Equality) Party, to five years.

Eight other defendants received jail terms of between 2 1/2 and eight years.

Another eight defendants received suspended sentences and were released from custody.

The U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan criticized the verdicts as "not based on the evidence" and "politically motivated."

All 18 defendants were found guilty of charges linked to mass disturbances in January 2013 in the town of Ismayilli.

In the rioting, protesters demand the resignation of the district governor and set fire to his residence, cars, and a local motel he reportedly owned.