Azerbaijan: Court Delays Ismayilova Hearing after Soundproof Box Row

Court guards put investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova in a sound-proof box after she received loud applause at a hearing in a Baku court, Turan News Agency has reported.

judge gail mammadov azJudge Gail MammadovAs Ismayilova entered the courtroom yesterday, onlookers in court reportedly rose to their feet to give her a standing ovation. Court guards responded by placing her in a glass sound-proof box, separating her from her lawyers and blocking her from view.

The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist was attending a preliminary hearing at the Court of Appeals. She is appealing a decision in February to fine her 2,500 manat for libel, one of a number of legal cases brought against the reporter in recent months. Rights groups have called charges against Ismayilova “politically motivated”.

Ismayilova’s lawyers Fariz Namazli and Yalchin Imanov asked the judge to release her from the box to allow them to communicate with their client. Judge Gail Mammadov said he would discuss it with the guards, but the guards reportedly refused the request.

Imanov and Namazli then joined Ismayilova in the box, according to reports. The hearing has been rescheduled for April 28.

Ismayilova was convicted of libel and fined 2,500 manat (US$ 2,400) on Feb. 23, 2015, in the Binagadi district court in the capital city of Baku. She has been detained by authorities since December 2014.