A senior official of Azerbaijan's pro-reform "REAL Movement" has been arrested ahead of a constitutional referendum that is take place next month. The pro-government news agency APA reports from Baku that the executive secretary of the movement Natig Jafarli was arrested by decision of the Nasimi District Court and jailed for 4 months.
Natig Jafarli is accused of illegal business, appropriation and tax evasion, his lawyer Javad Javadov told APA.
On Fiday (12 August) Jafarli was summoned to the Investigation Department for Serious Crimes of the Prosecutor General Office from where he was taken to court and charged.
Jafarli is the second senior member of the "REAL Movement" to be imprisoned. Another senior member of REAL, Ilgar Mammadov was arrested in February 2013 after he went to investigate reports of unrest in the town of Ismaili.
In March 2014, Mammadov was sentenced to 7 years in jail. He currently remains in jail, in spite of extensive international protests against his arrest and sentence, and a finding by the European Court of Human Rights in his favor. Mammadov has been declared a "prisoner of conscience" by Amnesty International.
The arrest of Jafarli comes as Azerbaijan prepares to hold a constitutional referendum that provides for an extension of the time in office of the President and the creation of a new post of vice president.
photo: Natig Jafarli (Photos courtesy RFE/RL)