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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Suspect Named in Azeri Editor's Killing

For MTElmar Huseinov
BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Azerbaijan's top prosecutor on Tuesday accused Farhad Aliyev, a former economics minister, of being directly connected to the 2005 murder of an opposition magazine editor.

Prosecutor General Zakir Qaralov did not say when charges would be brought against Aliyev, but told reporters that the confession of Haji Mammadov, who said he killed editor Elmar Huseinov on Aliyev's orders, "would be investigated as part of the criminal case and an objective decision would be made."

Huseinov, the founder and editor of the magazine Monitor, was found dead in the lobby of his Baku apartment building on March 2, 2005. His killing raised doubts about the free press and opposition activity in the country, which has been ruled by President Ilham Aliyev since flawed elections in 2003.

Farhad Aliyev, a former economic development minister who is of no relation to the president, was one of 12 people arrested in the run-up to last November's parliamentary elections, having been accused of plotting a coup. Opposition forces said the arrests were part of an effort by the government to manipulate the elections.

Qaralov said an address book containing Mammadov's phone number was found in Aliyev's office. He also said Aliyev's brother -- an oil company executive -- had once tried to bribe Huseinov.

Aliyev's defense lawyer, Adil Ismailov, confirmed that the address book found in Aliyev's office contained Mammadov's number and said Aliyev was friends with one of Mammadov's relatives. But he repeated denials that Aliyev had any involvement in the murder, and even denied that Mammadov had killed the magazine editor.

During a court hearing Monday, Mammadov, a former high-ranking Interior Ministry officer, said he had to name Aliyev as the man who ordered the hit.

"If I didn't name Farhad Aliyev, then whose name should I give? If I didn't name him, then they would have charged me with hiding the name of the person who ordered Huseinov's murder," Mammadov said.