Sanctions on Azerbaijani official, JAMnews

Sanctions on Azerbaijani official, JAMnews

Sanctions against Azerbaijani officials

Azerbaijani Police Colonel Kerim Alimardanov became the country’s first official to be sanctioned by a foreign state. The US State Department has sanctioned Kerim Alimardanov for violating human rights under the Magnitsky Act. The Interior Ministry of Azerbaijan denied that the colonel tortured prisoners.

Alimardanov is an employee of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Interior of Azerbaijan (“Gang Department”) and is on a list of more than forty people from different countries for human rights violations and corruption.

“In accordance with Section 7031(c), the U.S. Department of State criminalizes Alimardanov for involvement in gross human rights abuses, namely the torture of detainees in 2015 and 2016,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

This is the first time international sanctions have been imposed on an Azerbaijani government official.

What exactly the sanctions are is not reported. This usually means a travel ban to the United States and confiscation of accounts and property in the United States, if any. Prosecuted persons may be arrested in third countries at the request of the United States.

“Now there are consequences”

Former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Kozlarich underscored the importance of the State Department’s move.

“The Baku regime has committed human rights abuses with impunity. Now there are consequences. I hope these sanctions will also apply to officials steeped in corruption.”

The Interior Ministry rejects the allegations

The Interior Ministry of Azerbaijan rejected reports that Police Colonel Kerim Alimardanov had violated human rights and had been involved in the torture of detainees.

“The employee you named is distinguished by patriotism and love for his people. He’s a professional in his field. Alimardanov did his part to ensure the safety of citizens in the fight against crime,” Ehsan Zakhidov, head of the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, told Radio Liberty.

What is Alimardanov known for?

The name Alimardanov became known to the public after a police operation on November 26, 2015 in the village of Nardaran, a suburb of Baku. He led an assignment as head of the anti-robbery and other crime division of the Interior Ministry’s Organized Crime Suppression Unit.

On November 26, 2015, the Ministry of Interior of Azerbaijan conducted a special operation in the village of Nardaran. Six people were killed in a shootout, including two police officers. As a result of this operation, more than a hundred people were arrested, many of them convicted of murder and other crimes and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

Alimardanov’s name was also implicated in cases related to the arrest of social and political activists, but he took part in only one trial – a criminal case against activist Elgiz Gahramanli. At the trial, Alimardanov dismissed Gahramanli’s defense claims that the activist was tortured in the colonel’s personal office and that a drug was placed in his pocket.

Elgiz Gahramanli was arrested in 2016 for drug trafficking and imprisoned for five years and six months. The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan amended the article under which Gahramanli was sentenced, reducing the sentence to three years. Elgiz Gahramanli was recognized as a political prisoner and pardoned by Presidential Decree in March 2019. Officials in Azerbaijan claim that there are no political prisoners in the country.

In July 2015, by order of President Ilham Aliyev, Alimardanov was awarded the “For Heroism” medal.

Sanctions against Azerbaijani officials

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