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Wasn't one prison term enough for you?

Baptist former prisoner of conscience Zaur Balaev – freed on 19 March after being held for nearly a year to punish him for leading his congregation – was summoned and threatened with a new prison term in early May, he told Forum 18 News Service on 12 June from his home village of Aliabad in the north-western region of Zakatala [Zaqatala]. "Haven't you learnt from your imprisonment?" Balaev quoted police officers as telling him. "Wasn't one prison term enough for you?" And, in what Balaev says was a clear threat, one officer added: "You may not be afraid, but you've forgotten you've got a wife, daughter and a son."

Balaev said the threats came from Kamandar Hasanov, the deputy regional police chief, and two of his colleagues in Hasanov's office in Zakatala. "They didn't hit me but they were very crude."

Balaev said the police banned his church from meeting, a ban the congregation has defied. Police have continued to visit his church during worship services. "They realise they can't drive us out," he told Forum 18, referring to the fact that all the church members are local people. "But they observe us closely."


Picture: Prisoner Alert

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