Saleh Rustamli, imprisoned opposition Popular Front Party supporter, stopped his hunger strike today, doctor Adil Geybulla told his lawyers after meeting with him.
Rustamli has been on hunger strike since November 6 with demand of freedom. December 16 was his 41th day of hunger strike and 4th after refusing water and medication. Doctors have been alarming for a while that Rustamli could die any moment because of deterioration of his health.
On December 9 a Turkish medical crew concluded, after examining Rustamli, that some brain cells in his body died and won’t recover, which are related to functions of speaking, comprehension, and memory. Before Rustamli switched to dry hunger strike, doctors have been saying that it would take for him 12 to 24 hours to fall into comatose and die.
On December 16 his son Sezgin Rustamov posted on Facebook that his father fell into comatose last night and woke up only after doctor’s intervention.
Adil Geybulla, doctor of Rustamli’s choice, was allowed by Penitentiary Service to examine him in prison only after days of insistence of Rustamli’s lawyers. Geybulla notified the public that Rustamli’s health has deteriorated and his organs can shut down any moment.
The lawyers, Bahruz Bayramov and Agil Layic, appealed to a local court on December 6 to rule to free Rustamli from the rest of his sentence, on the basis of his deteriorated health. The court has not scheduled a hearing so far, Layic told the press, and December 16 is the last day it can hold a trial based on the appeal, according to the legal procedures.
Some on social media speculated that Rustamli was notified of would-be decision of the court to grant him freedom, and thus he stopped hunger strike.
Rustamli started his hunger strike after he was not listed on the major “Victory” Amnesty bill aimed to free 16,000 prisoners. During this time, two rallies were held in his defense in Baku’s central Fountains Square with 70 people in total being detained. Longtime opposition figure Tofig Yagublu was severely beaten in the first rally on December 1.
Only one member of Parliament, Vahid Ahmadov, officially wrote a letter to President Ilham Aliyev asking him to pardon Rustamli. Ombusdman Sabina Aliyeva called Rustamli on phone and asked him to stop his hunger strike.
Previously Rustamli told his lawyers and family that he would “either be freed or die in prison”.
Rustamli was arrested in 2018 when he paid a short family visit from Russia to Azerbaijan. In 2019 he was convicted of running illegal business and money laundering. Prosecution argued that Rustamli sponsored Popular Front Party, and Rustamli and his lawyers rejected all allegations.