Baku: Azerbaijan on Friday sentenced five men to up to 13 years in prison for beating to death a journalist who had criticised an Azeri football team player on Facebook. A serious crimes court in the capital Baku found the men "guilty of inflicting serious bodily harm that caused the death" of journalist Rasim Aliyev, judge Eldar Ismayilov said in the courtroom.
The men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from nine to 13 years. Aliyev, a 30-year-old photo and video journalist for a number of online publications, died in hospital in August last year after being beaten by a group of men who had contacted him over his Facebook post about a heated football match between teams from Cyprus and Azerbaijan.
Aliyev had criticised the behaviour of the Azeri team Gabala's striker Javid Huseynov who waved a Turkish flag after the match with Cypriot team Apollon Limassol and allegedly made an offensive gesture at a journalist. Aliyev wrote that Huseynov "did not know how to behave" and should not play in matches in Europe.
Aliyev told the Turan agency before his death that he had received insulting comments about the post. He said he was contacted by telephone by a man claiming to be a cousin of the player. After initially abusing him, the man phoned him back in a conciliatory tone and invited him to drink tea.
"I came out alone. There were five or six of them and they immediately threw themselves at me and started beating me up," Aliyev told the agency. He later died in intensive care after his condition worsened and he underwent an emergency operation.