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FORMER FINANCE OFFICER STRUGGLES FOR JUSTICE

Jasur Mammadov

Yusufov served as chief of finance services for military unit 707 in Shamkir Corps, which was based 500 km from Baku near the Nagorno-Karabakh frontline. Yusufov was arrested in October of 2009 and accused of stealing nearly 1 million Manat ($1.275 million).

  Thee finance chiefs of military units 812, 777 and 065 also were arrested. The total amount of stolen money was more than 3 million Manat  ($3.825 million), Yusufov claims.

 He was sentenced eight years of prison. In his letter to the President Yusufov claims lots of officers weren’t arrested because they had bribed officials at the Military Prosecutor’s office.

In 2013 he sent several letters to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev about the wasted budget funds. His letters were published in several newspapers, but no government office including the Ministry of Defense answered his questions about corruption. In the letters Yusufov claimed that there is an organized group inside the Ministry of Defense who are involved in stealing the state money.

 “When the investigation was conducted, they didn’t announce the names of people who are at the top of the organized crime group in the Ministry of Defense,” Yusufov wrote. “In 2008, the Ministry inspectors from the Department of General Control checked the finances in Shamkir Corps, but they didn’t find anything illegal.”

Yusufov stated that in 2007 and 2008 lots of official documents were exterminated.

Telman Abilov, director of the NGO Center of Struggle Against Corruption in the Army, said corruption was far worse from 1995 to 2013, when Safar Abiyev was Minister of Defense. “Number of high-ranked officers were involved in corruption. Those who were against the corruption got arrested,” Abilov said.

 Abilov says all ministry transactions must be checked.  “It is gratifying that during this past year several high-level officers and even a General (commander of Navy Forces Shahin Sultanov imprisoned in March 2014) were accused in corruption. Today, government cannot hide the facts of corruption in the Army, that is why they try to investigate these cases,” Abilov said.

 Abilov said that arrest of more than 10 Army finance officers in 2007-2009 was not related to corruption, but was a conflict between high-ranking officers and the Military Prosecutor Office. He supports the idea external - either parliamentary or civilian control over the Army.  “Safar Abiyev never spoke in front of parliament and never answered MP’s questions about the deaths of the soldiers, corruption and bribery. This is the major problem with army in Azerbaijan.”