Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court has commuted a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence against prominent human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev, paving the way for his release after nearly a year in prison.
The court decided to give Aliyev a suspended sentence on March 28, after his lawyers appealed to prosecutors, saying he was suffering from spinal and other health problems.
The 53-year-old activist was arrested in August 2014 and convicted of illegal business activity, tax evasion, abuse of authority, and other charges in April 2015.
Aliyev has always denied the charges as politically motivated and his lawyers have been demanding that the criminal case against him be fully dismissed.
Aliyev was announced the winner of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Award in 2015.
He founded the Legal Education Society in 1998 to provide legal assistance to marginalized groups, and has represented many Azerbaijani activists and human rights defenders.
Azerbaijan is widely criticized by Western governments and organizations for its crackdown on dissent and imprisonment of activists and government opponents.
On March 17, President Ilham Aliyev– who is not related to the human rights lawyer– pardoned 148 prisoners, including several human rights defenders and opposition activists and politicians.
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