Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani investigative journalist who went missing on May 29 from Tbilisi and appeared in a detention facility in Baku a day later, says he was forced into a car close to his house in Tbilisi by unidentified persons, whom he believes were representatives of the Georgian security services, Mukhtarli’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov told RFE/RL’s Russian-language Ekho Kavkaza.
Sadigov, who spoke with him briefly today, said that Mukhtarli’s hands were tied and he was beaten before being forced into an Opel car. “There are marks of beating on his nose and forehead, blood clots under the eyes. He suspects, that his rib is broken as he feels severe pain in the chest.”
“When he was forced into the car, they put a bag on his head. He said [he told them] he had a heart condition and could not breathe. Then they put a t-shirt on his head and fixed it with a plastic tape,” Sadigov added.
“They drove for two hours before the car was stopped at some place and Afgan was placed into another car. Later, there was another change of cars and only in the third car, they spoke in Azerbaijani language,” Sadigov went on.
Sadigov noted that when the bag was taken off Afgan’s head, he found himself at the [Azerbaijani] border point. “There they planted 10 thousand euro in his pocket: Afgan says that he never had that much money.”
Sadigov said he would demand examination of the camera footage at the border. He also said Afgan is charged by the Azerbaijani authorities with illegal border trespassing and smuggling and added that the court proceeding will be held on May 31.
The Amnesty International, London-based international human right organization, said in its press release on May 30 that Mukhtarli “is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment” in Azerbaijan.
Georgian authorities have not yet commented on the matter.
* Translation not from original language. Translation from Azerbaijani to Russian by RFE/RL’s Russian-language Ekho Kavkaza.