(HRW) that as he left the office, around 11.45pm, two people attacked him from behind and hit him several times on the head. The assailants fled only after Jafarov’s colleagues responded to his calls for help.
THEREIS GROWINGalarm at the prosecutions and violent harassment of members of the media in Azerbaijan. According to PEN, there are now five journalists serving prison terms on charges of defamation, terrorism and ‘inciting religious enmity’. Although violations of freedom of expression are nothing new in the South Caucasus state, attacks and imprisonment of journalists have risen sharply in the last year. Even the British government is concerned by Azerbaijan’s stringent media controls and the deteriorating environment for independent journalists. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office reported the murder of Elmar Huseynov, a prominent journalist, who was shot dead outside his apartment in March 2005, observing that the Azerbaijan government declared the killing a ‘terrorist act’ but, despite international condemnation, have made little progress in bringing the perpetrators to justice. Huseynov, founder and editor of the independent weekly news magazine Monitor, had been under constant pressure from the authorities for the critical nature of some of its articles, and had experienced difficulties with printing and distribution as well as facing several defamation lawsuits. A more recent case of concern is that of a former colleague of Huseynov, Eynulla Fatullayev, who in April this year was sentenced under Article 147.2 of the Criminal Code to two and a half years in prison on charges of libel. The outspoken editor-in-chief of the independent Realni Azerbaijanand Gundelik Azerbaijan newspapers was convicted for a statement attributed to him that was published on the website AzeriTriColor. The Internet posting accuses the Azeri army of culpability in the deaths of Azeri citizens during an Armenian army siege of a city in Nagorno Karabakh in 1992. Fatullayev says he did not post the article and maintains that it was a set-up aimed at landing him in prison. He has been targeted before for his writing. Fatullayev was reportedly a close friend of Huseynov, and Realni Azerbaijannewspaper is the successor to Monitor, which closed after Huseynov’s death. After publishing an article accusing the Azeri authorities of obstructing the investigation into the murder of the editor, Fatullayev reported death threats against him and his family. The Azeri authorities refused to investigate these claims or to offer protection to Fatullayev. On 20 April 2007 Yasamal District Court in Baku convicted Fatullayev of ‘criminal libel’ and ‘insult’, sentencing him to thirty months in prison. The same day, unknown assailants attacked one of Fatullayev’s colleagues at Realni Azerbaijan, who sustained serious injuries. Uzeyir Jafarov told Human Rights Watch
Jafarov was later hospitalised for head trauma. He claimed to have seen one of the assailants in the courtroom at Fatullayev’s hearing earlier in the day. On 22 May 2007 Fatullayev was served with additional charges of ‘terrorism’ under Article 214 of the Criminal Code, for which he faces a further twelve years in prison. He is accused by the Ministry for National Security of aiding the Armenian Special Forces, although no specific details were given. On 20 May, his newspaper’s offices had been searched by National Security agents and computers and documents were seized. According to HRW, Fatullayev is known for his frequent criticism of Azeri officials and for exposing instances of government corruption. For over a year he has been under increasing pressure to stop practising his profession. High-ranking state officials have initiated criminal defamation charges against Fatullayev. In September 2006 Fatullayev was handed a two-year suspended sentence and forced to pay damages in a criminal libel case brought by Interior Minister Ramil Usubov. (Usubov has apparently brought similar charges against numerous other independent journalists and newspapers.) On 1 October 2006 Fatullayev’s father was kidnapped. The kidnappers threatened to kill both Fatullayev and his father, and he was forced to suspend the publication of his newspapers in exchange for his father’s release. Fatullayev resumed publishing only two months later, but at risk to his own life, since the kidnappers remained at large. The latest reports suggest that the journalist is being held in inhumane conditions and that he has received multiple death threats whilst in prison. Readers may like to send appeals calling for the release of Eynulla Fatullayev and protesting against the additional sentence levied against him which is considered to be in violation of international standards guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression: President Ilham Aliyev Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic 19 Istiqlaliyyat Street Baku AZ1066 Azerbaijan Fax: 00 994 12 492 0625 Email: email@example.com
LITERARY REVIEW August 2007 CRIME
★By David Peace (Faber & Faber 368pp £16.99)
INTokyo in 1946, ‘this city is no city, this country, no country’. And this police department is one in which everybody has good reasons to be afraid, and most have even better reasons to disguise their true identity. Little wars are fought beneath the attention of the American occupiers, as different ethnic groups compete to control the sale and supply of blackmarket food. This counts as crime fiction because its plot is a murder investigation – apparently based on a real-life case from 1946 when two young women were found murdered in Shiba Park. Detective Minami of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department is assigned to the case and it is fascinating to follow his investigation as he gradually realises that he has a personal involvement in the secret past of the victims and their killer. But what makes the book remarkable is the brilliantly evocative portrait of the devastated city and its defeated inhabitants: ‘We have seen hell, we have known heaven, we have heard the last judgement, and we have witnessed the fall of the gods.’
★By Dreda Say Mitchell (Hodder & Stoughton 416pp £11.99)
THErap artist and mega-star Jeremiah Skantleberry, aka Lord Tribulation, is suspected of being involved in crimes: his father’s death to the sound of reggae and the firebombing of a house by a teenage Vivaldi fan. Lord Tribulation’s own investigation takes him back to the drought summer of 1976, when Notting Hill’s millionpound flats were still North Kensington’s derelict bedsits and young people tried to change the world with rhythm, reggae and riots. An interesting, original novel, worth reading even if you don’t get half the
references and in real life would block your ears to the noise.
★By Neil Cross (Simon & Schuster 279pp £11.99)
I read this book on the day the West Country’s local daily ran a story about a family who bought and moved into a derelict Devon zoo. The real-life parallels made an even more unsettling read of a story that seems to lack the usual signifiers of mystery fiction, as it follows the unusual lives of an apparently perfect nuclear family. A woman zoologist and TV Don takes on a monkey sanctuary in North Devon and goes off to work in Africa while her ex-journalist husband and their two children turn the unsuccessful tourist attraction into a thriving wildlife park. A series of peculiar incidents add to an uneasy atmosphere, but it is not until the very end that the first overt crime is committed. Suddenly it becomes clear that the whole book has been a study of criminal behaviour by a psychopath and only on a second reading does every seemingly innocent incident shout its awful warning. Highly recommended.
★By Anne Zouroudi (Bloomsbury 288pp £10.99)
THEgod – a fat man in formal clothes – steps from the machine, in this case the ferry that is the only link between the outside world and the Greek island of Thiminos. This strange man, as inscrutable and mysterious at the end of the book as at the beginning, has come to secure justice for the shade of a woman whose battered body was found at the bottom of a cliff. In such a remote place modern forensic methods seem as irrelevant as the usual rituals of a twenty-first
century legal system; the island is regulated by archaic superstition and traditional codes of honour, which mean justice can only be achieved by an unorthodox investigation. In fact this whole novel is unorthodox and could equally well be categorised as updated mythology; but it is absorbing, beautifully written and reveals the savage, superstitious reality behind the pretty faççade that is all that most of us know of any Greek island.
★By Andrea Camilleri (Picador 288pp £12.99)
INSPECTORMontalbano is a Sicilian policeman, who with each successive novel becomes more pessimistic and cynical. This is the universal fate of European police detectives in fiction, if not in real life, and Montalbano, who began as a cheerful character, will probably soon be as morose and depressed as any Swede. Admittedly there is very little to smile about in a plot based on human trafficking, child abuse and slavery, but Camilleri has created such a realistic and likeable hero that his books are both instructive and enjoyable; and the Sicilian setting is fascinating. Technically this is a police procedural; actually, it is an insightful psychological study of a good man in a deviant world.
★By John Lawton (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 432pp £17.99)
SECONDVIOLIN is the sixth book in the Frederick Troy series about a posh policeman before, during and after the Second World War. In chronological terms it is the first, and casts a fascinating new light on the background of characters and events referred to in previous volumes. Various historical episodes are shown with unusually vivid and sensitive insight: Austria on the day of the Nazi takeover, or
LITERARY REVIEWAugust 2007