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Lawyer Says Jailed Azerbaijani Journalist Tortured, Has Lost Teeth


Nicat Amiraslanov

A lawyer for Azerbaijani journalist Nicat Amiraslanov says he believes his client was tortured in custody and that, as a result, he has lost many or all of his teeth..

Amiraslanov, an independent journalist from the northwestern Qazax district, was detained on May 22 and sentenced to 30 days in jail after a court ruled that he resisted police.

He had planned to appeal the decision at a June 3 hearing but instead admitted guilt, canceling the appeal.

Defense lawyer Elcin Sadiqov said after the hearing that when he saw Amiraslanov in the courtroom, he had no teeth -- while days earlier he had all his teeth and no apparent ailment.

"When we asked him what happened to his teeth, he answered that they [had] just fallen out," Sadiqov said.

It was not clear whether Amiraslanov's teeth were removed or whether they fell out as a result of violence against him.

Sadiqov also said that he saw the judge's assistant dictating something to Amiraslanov and suspects his client was being told to admit guilt.

Sadiqov called for an immediate investigation.

On May 24, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged Azerbaijani authorities not to contest Amiraslanov's appeal and to "cease harassing and jailing critical reporters."

International rights defenders and Western governments have criticized the oil-producing former Soviet republic's government for persistent clampdowns targeting independent journalists and activists.

President Ilham Aliyev, who has ruled the Caucasus nation of almost 10 million people with an iron fist since shortly before his father's death in 2003, has shrugged off the criticism.

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