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The Committee of Ministers of the 47-nation Council of Europe has launched infringement proceedings against Azerbaijan due to the authorities’ continuing refusal to ensure the unconditional release of opposition politician Ilgar Mammadov following a judgment from the European Court of Human Rights in 2014.

In the first use of a procedure introduced in 2010, the committee has formally asked the court to decide whether Azerbaijan has failed to fulfill its obligation to abide by the court’s judgment in this case, Council of Europe said in a statement.

In May 2014, the court concluded that no facts or information had been produced in the domestic criminal proceedings giving rise to a suspicion justifying the bringing of charges against Mr Mammadov, or his arrest and pre-trial detention. The court found that the actual purpose of these measures was to silence or punish him for criticising the government.

In the judgment, the court found violations of Articles 5, 6 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Until November 2017, the court found a violation of Article 18 of the convention in only five judgments and in all of those cases, except Ilgar Mammadov v. Azerbaijan, the applicants were released.

Since December 2014, the Committee of Ministers has adopted numerous decisions and interim resolutions stressing the fundamental flaws in the criminal proceedings revealed by the European court’s May 2014 judgment and calling for Mr Mammadov’s immediate and unconditional release.

However, over three years since the court’s judgment became final, the applicant remains in detention on the basis of the flawed criminal proceedings.

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