[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 14:29 GMT
Azeri magazine editor shot dead
Elmar Huseynov (Photo: Echo newspaper)
Huseynov was fiercely critical of the authorities
The editor-in-chief of an Azeri opposition magazine has been killed in front of his home in Baku.

Elmar Huseynov was reportedly shot seven times while walking out of the lift at about 1700 GMT, news agency Turan reported.

The magazine, Monitor, is strongly critical of Azeri authorities and President Ilham Aliyev.

Huseynov had been sued for defamation after accusing local officials of behaving like the Sicilian Mafia.

Human rights groups have already linked the murder to his journalistic activities.

"Huseynov became the victim of his citizen's activism - this is terrorism against the press," said Arzu Abdullayeva, a representative of the international Helsinki human rights committee in Azerbaijan.

Protests

An employee with the magazine, who witnessed the murder, has alleged that Huseynov might have been the victim of a contract killing.

"When Huseynov was leaving a lift in his apartment block the lights went off," the man, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters news agency.

Elmar's funeral should not be a day of nationwide mourning, but a day of hatred
Ali Karimli, MP
People's Front of Azerbaijan Party

"Then I heard several pistol shots, and when the light was back, Huseynov was dead."

Only two days ago, two opposition journalists said they had been detained and beaten up by the police.

But analysts here say this murder is by far the most serious case in a long list of assaults on journalists in Azerbaijan.

Most opposition and independent newspapers in Azerbaijan condemned the murder.

The opposition newspaper Yeni Musavat dubbed Huseynov "the first martyr of the free press" on its front page.

The chairman of the People's Front of Azerbaijan Party, MP Ali Karimli, told the paper: "This is an act of state terror.

"At the very least the nation should rise against this."

'Sabotage'

The leader of the opposition Musavat Party, Isa Qambar, told the paper that the government was conducting a campaign of "terror against freedom of the press, independent and brave journalists, free-minded people and the nation itself".

The Xalq Cabhasi newspaper, mouthpiece of the pro-government United People's Front of Azerbaijan Party, blamed the murder on "forces both at home and abroad who are ready to lead to confrontation and upset stability".

The independent daily Ekspress said "the chief of the Baku City Main Police Department does not rule out that the journalist's murder was an act of sabotage against the state".

Mr Aliyev succeeded his father as president in 2003.

The elections were criticised by international observers, and were followed by violent protests.

Several opposition leaders were jailed in connection with the riots.


SEE ALSO:
Azeri opposition leaders jailed
22 Oct 04 |  Europe
Azeri dynasty stays in power
16 Oct 03 |  Europe
Country profile: Azerbaijan
01 Feb 05 |  Country profiles


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific