"It was funny to face the charges of tax evasion while I was the one who revealed how the president's family was stealing the people's money and transferring it to offshore," said Khadija Ismaylova in the final speech at the trial on August 31.
But precisely for this on September 1, Baku court sentenced journalist Khadija Ismaylova to 7 and a half years in prison for tax evasion, abuse of power, defamation and illegal business activities.
"Unlike the prosecution, we relied on the documents and facts instead of some assumptions,” said Ismaylova in the courtroom. "Ilham Aliyev has squandered entrusted to him state budget, and the members of his family were the beneficiaries. This is evidenced by the attached constituent documents of companies and copies of the orders which are included in my stories. However, employees of the Prosecutor's Office and the tax inspectors did not provide any documents which would prove my guilt. "
Khadija was arrested in December 2014 and charged of inciting the colleagues to commit suicide; the court invalidated the initial charges later on. Thus, instead of 9 years in prison demanded by the prosecutor, the journalist got seven and a half.
She called her arrest political and aimed at ending her anti-corruption investigations. The journalist has expressed confidence that "the real journalists and conscious citizens" will continue to expose the oil corrupt schemes of the former Soviet Union.
We want to remind that Khadija Ismailova was imprisoned after her arrest in December 2014 despite the numerous appeals of the US and European authorities to release this political prisoner. Amnesty International called the journalist a "prisoner of conscience", and the Committee to Protect Journalists said that the charges against Khadija were the retaliation for her journalistic activity.
The court did not let the journalists and relatives to participate in the hearing which took place on August 7, and the hearing itself had only one international observer.
Khadija Ismaylova is one of the 33 arrested critics of the state regime in the last year. Among other victims of the government, there are a couple of lawyers Leyla and Arif Yunus, an activist Rasul Jafarov, a human rights lawyer Intiqam Aliyev, and the people forced to flee the country such as the chief editor of the newspaper "Azaldyg" Ganimet Zahid and the director of an opposition TV channel “Meydan TV” Emin Milli.