More than five months after the death of journalist Elmar Huseynov, the editor’s widow and members of a public watchdog group formed to monitor the state investigation into Huseynov’s death claim that the government is deliberately dragging its feet on solving the case. The government points a finger at Georgia for refusing to extradite two prime suspects, both Georgian citizens, to Azerbaijan for prosecution. Meanwhile, as the investigation continues, Huseynov’s death has become a prominent lightening rod for Azerbaijan’s opposition as it prepares for parliamentary elections this November.
The Public Investigation Group (PIG), a watchdog organization established by a group of lawyers and friends of Huseynov to monitor the state investigation, say they have serious complaints about how the inquiry into the 38-year-old editor’s March 1, 2005 death is being handled. Shahbaz Khuduoglu, a friend of Elmar Huseynov and member of PIG, says that the group has evidence of intentional delay.
"The government did not take any serious steps to find suspects, while we do not know why the state investigation suspects [certain] people in the assassination and ignores other names," Khuduoglu said. The Ministry of National Security, responsible for the investigation, named Tahir Khubanov and Teymuraz Aliyev, both Georgian citizens and ethnic Azerbaijanis, after studying video tapes recorded by metro stations’ and shops’ security services on the eve of the March 2 assassination. According to information released to PIG by state investigators, the pair allegedly returned to Georgia on March 2.
The Azerbaijani government sent two investigators to Georgia to track the suspects, but the Georgian government, however, has refused to extradite the two men. Under Georgian law, citizens cannot be extradited for prosecution. The office of the Georgian general prosecutor has stated that the pair will be arrested only if the Azerbaijani government hands over compelling evidence of their guilt. In the meantime, a wanted notice for the two men has been posted by Interpol at the request of Azerbaijani law enforcement agencies.
The magazine editor’s widow Rushana Huseynova, now a frequent guest at opposition rallies, says that she is confident that the Azerbaijani leadership already knows who murdered her husband. "I remain sure that someone among the authorities did order the assassination of my husband. I am more than sure that President Ilham Aliyev knows who ordered the assassination," said Huseynova. "He promised that the killer would be found within 40 days after the assassination. But [five] months have passed and we have nothing so far. The president should keep his promises."
Both Huseynova and PIG report that they have received little information about the investigation since the national security ministry took charge in April. National Security Minister Eldar Mahmudov placed a condition of non-disclosure on information about the investigation provided in a July 14 meeting to Aflatun Amashev, head of the Press Council, Arif Aliyev, chairman of the Yeni Nesil Journalist Union and Mehman Aliyev, director of Turan News Agency. Mamudov had mentioned the existence of other suspects, Aliyev told EurasiaNet, but the union head declined to elaborate further.
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