On April 22nd, European Court of Human Rights ordered release of journalist and editor- in- chief of Realniy Azerbaijan, Eynulla Fatullayev.
The court in its ruling "found that Azerbaijan 'grossly' and 'disproportionately' restricted freedom of expression by imprisoning Fatullayev [...] In an exceptional move, the court also told Azerbaijan that its unlawful imprisonment did not leave any real choice as to the measures required to remedy the violations and ordered his immediate release [...] 'This ruling should end the terrible miscarriage of justice against Fatullayev', said Giorgi Gogia, South Caucasus researcher at Human Rights Watch. 'Now Azerbaijan authorities need to set him free".
Based on the ruling, the government also needs to pay 25,000 EUR in compensation for non- pecuniary damage and additional 2,822 EUR for costs and expenses.
The OSCE representative on media freedom also called on Azerbaijan to comply with the decision and release Eynulla from prison where he is currently being held.
You can find the full press release here: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action=html&documentId=866871&portal=hbkm&source=externalbydocnumber&table=F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649
Official representative of the Azerbaijani Republic to the European Court of Human Rights Cingiz Askerov stated that it is groundless to give instructions to courts of this or any other state by the ECHR. According to Askerov, ECHR's demand for the release was "inadmissible in terms of the regulations of the European Convention on Human Rights and Azerbaijan legislation". In fact, he added that Azerbaijan will be requesting that the case is transferred to the Grand Chamber of the European Court*.
The fact that Azerbaijan authorities are reacting this way and are putting so much effort into this case, openly reflects government's unhappiness with regard to the decision. Moreover, it clearly illustrates that the authorities are ready to do whatever it takes to prevent release of Eynulla Fatullayev. After all, he did get an add additional 3 years, simply because someone just wanted to do so.
Its going to be an interesting period to observe- what happens with this case and whether this specific case sets an example of justice or if it doesn't change anything at all.
* Based on article 43 of the European Convention on Human Rights, within three months of the date of a Chamber judgement, any party to the case may, in exception cases, request that the case be referred to the 17- member Grand Chamber of the Court. In that event, a panel of five judges considers whether the case raises a serious question affecting the interpretation or application of the Convention or its protocols, or a serious issue of general importance, in which case the Grand Chamber will deliver a final judgement. If not such question or issues arises, the panel will reject the request, at which point the judgement becomes final.