World Bulletin / News Desk
Azerbaijan on Thursday sentenced a young pro-democracy activist to 10 years in prison on drug trafficking after he was caught spraying graffiti on a monument of the country's former strongman leader.
"This is a political trial. My client Bayram Mammadov did not commit any crime," the activist's lawyer, Elchin Sadykhov said.
Mammadov and fellow activist Giyas Ibrahimov were arrested in May after painting anti-government graffiti on a monument in the capital Baku of late Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev, the father of current leader Ilham Aliyev.
Ibrahimov, 21, was jailed for 10 years in October.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on authorities to "immediately free" the activists and investigate allegations that they were mistreated in police custody.
"They offered to free me if I agreed to lay flowers at the Heydar Aliyev monument and apologise before state TV cameras, but I refused," Mammadov said.
Activists have consistently slammed Azerbaijan for its rights record, saying it uses fabricated drug and graft charges to target government critics.
Last month the tightly-controlled state approved constitutional changes extending Ilham Aliyev's grip on power, in a referendum denounced by opposition and rights groups as a ploy to cement the family's dynastic rule.
Aliyev, 54, has led the country since his father died in 2003 after a decade in power.Last Mod: 08 Aralık 2016, 17:43