The trial of conservative Sh’ia religious activists involved in what is known as the 'Nardaran Affair' has reached its long-expected conclusion, with all 17 defendants sentenced to up to 20-year prison terms.
All the defendants – 16 members of Muslim Unity, a moderate Islamist group, along with a lone secular opposition politician – were found guilty on a litany of charges ranging from arms trafficking to plotting to overthrow the government.
The case traces its origins to still-murky events in December 2015, when police raided a house in the town of Nardaran, just north of Baku, where a popular Imam, Taleh Bagirzadeh, was leading prayers. Shots were fired – no one can agree on as to the identity of the culprits – but soon after, four locals and two police were found dead.
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Mike Runey is a program officer for Eurasia at Civil Rights Defenders.