Fuad Alasgarov: Alexander Lapshin’s pardon is next humanist step

Fuad Alasgarov, assistant to the President for Work with Law Enforcement Bodies and Military Issues, Head of Department gave an interview to AzerTag on the pardon of Alexander Lapshin and release of Mehman Aliyev.
- Mr.Alasgarov, pardon of Alexander Lapshin and Mehman Aliyev, head of “Turan” information agency are one of the most discussed issues. How do you assess these decisions? 
- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev always confirms his loyalty to the idea and principles of humanism. 
I would like to remind you that on 10 February 2017, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev signed an Executive Order On improving work in the penitentiary system, humanization of the punishment policy and expansion of alternative punishments and procedural enforcement measures not associated with isolation from society.
On the other hand, adopted numerous pardon and amnesty acts are one of the components of this humanist policy. As you know, 5 amnesty acts which have been adopted since 2003 were applied to about 54000 people. At the same time, Azerbaijani President signed 31 decrees to pardon 3800 people. Among them were journalists and bloggers who were charged with different kinds of crimes. In other words, the president pays attention to the issues regarding pardon and Pardon Issues Commission under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan regularly reviews prisoners’ appeals. This is a dynamic process. 
Lapshin’s pardon can be considered as a next humanist step. Generally, two legal procedures regarding Lapshin - his return to Israel as Israeli citizen and his pardoning were looked over in parallel. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev presumed his pardoning possible and signed a decree considering Lapshin’s confession on the committed crime during his judicial procedure and his appeals to the Azerbaijani president, his recognition of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and his marital status, especially having small child. 
-Is the issue of Lapshin’s return to Israel on agenda after the signed decree? 
-I would like to clarify an issue related to your question. After a decree signed on pardon, information about Lapshin’s extradition or remand to another country spreaded on several media outlets. However, certain legal definitions are confused here. So, the issue regarding Lapshin’s remand fell off the agenda, as Lapshin was pardoned. According to the international conventions, the purpose of prisoner’s remand to another country is to serve the rest of his sentence in the country where he is citizen. After president’s decree, Alexander Lapshin was liberated from serving the rest of his sentence. 
According to our information, Lapshin wishes to go Israel where he has a citizenship. He is healthy and does not have any health problem. He may go to Israel when he wants.
- What can you tell about the release of Azerbaijani journalist and media expert Mehman Aliyev?
- Mehman Aliyev personally addressed a letter to the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev in order to change a measure of restraint imposed on him. Basing on the humanism principles, Azerbaijani President immediately reacted his appeal and recommended to change the measure by prosecutor and to liberate Mehman Aliyev from isolator. I especially want to stress that the appeal of the head of state to the prosecutor's office and the judiciary was not an assignment but a recommendation. 
Actually, decisions made by the President of Azerbaijan on release of Mehman Aliyev, as well as, the premature conditional release of a group of people who were arrested over the incidents that took place in Baku's Nardaran township, are the reverberation of the realization of the idea and principles that reflected in the Decree dated February 10, 2017 signed by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev. By the way, the statistical calculations made after the signing of the Decree indicate that the number of the detainees decreased by 30 per-cent. 
I should note that works on the execution of the tasks assigned to the Decree are still underway. Thus, the proposals for amendments to the Criminal Code have already been submitted to the National Assembly by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The work on amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and Code for the Execution of Criminal Penalties are due to finalize. All three amendments are expected to come into force simultaneously.