On 23 April 2018, the ABA issued a decision to suspend the licences of Nemat Kerimli and Asabali Mustafayev for one year. Both lawyers are known for taking cases relating to politically-motivated prosecutions. The move came after the prosecutor’s office lodged complaints about the lawyers’ public statements concerning the politically motivated cases on which they were working.
Mr. Mustafayev represented Gozel Bayramli, a political activist who was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of smuggling 12,000 EUR in cash across the Georgia-Azerbaijan border. Both the Prosecutor’s office and the ABA failed to take into consideration that Mr. Mustafayev had not yet been appointed as Ms. Bayramli’s defence lawyer when he made the statement about her arrest being politically-motivated, and made his comment as a private individual. The second lawyer, Mr. Karimli, represented Afgan Mukhtarli – who was kidnapped in Georgia and brought across the border to Azerbaijan where he was found guilty of smuggling 10,000 EUR, illegally crossing the Georgia-Azerbaijan border and resisting police. Mr. Mukhtarli was subsequently sentenced to six years in prison.