by Meltem Talibzade
“When I saw her dead body chopped up, I lost myself and did not know what to do. I had not been told she was cut into pieces."
Everyone learned by a large scream that a woman was cut up by her husband in the remote Azerbaijan village of Toganaly.
The murder occurred on June 16, 2014. (There is a custom in Azerbaijan that a corpse should be washed before it was buried. According to Islam, the body of the deceased should be cleaned and sent to another world.)
According to this custom, the corpse of Efruz Verdiyeva, who was killed by her husband, was to be washed by her aunt Sevda Mammadova .
Mammadova said she was not informed that her niece's body was in pieces.
"Such an event has never been seen in our village. It's been four years since it happened, and we are still shocked. The miserable girl is slaughtered."
Toganaly is considered to be a tourism center. In summer, there are as many foreigners as locals in the community. Ten miles away is the village of Azgilli, where the victim was born in 1983. When she was four years old, her mother Maya Mammadova, died of kidney failure while pregnant with her third child.
The aunt said doctors had warned her the birth could be dangerous. But Maya's husband and relatives did not take it seriously.
Sevda Mammadova said her sister's husband, Jumshud Mammadov, was a drunk and never cared for his family. After Maya died, Mammadov married another woman and she became new mother to Efruz and her brother Bahruz.
But Verdiyeva Tezegul did not like the children. So Bahruz began to live with his grandfather, Dashdemir Ismayilov, in Toganaly. Afruz stayed with her father and his new wife.
The population of Azgilli is below 100. The only school is four years old. Afruz was supposed to do housework and help her stepmother. Her father also did not support her education, so Afruz quit going to school.
When she reached the “marriage age” of 18, her stepmother decided she must marry a man she did not know. He was 35-year-old Rufat Aliyev, a newly released prisoner who had beaten a relative. Her aunt Sevda Mammadova said they were not informed or invited to the wedding.
Afruz started to live with Aliyev in Goygol district, a one-hour drive from Azgilli. They had three children, two girls and one boy.
According to the aunt, when she visited Afruz, she saw Aliyev's mother was looking for the right time to giving calming medicine to her son, who had a psychological problem. He tried not to take the medicine, and would beat family members if they tried to force him, according to his cousin Hagigat Hasanova.
According to Hasanova his cousin had no psychological problems in childhood. But around age 25 he had a conflict with a relative and beat him severely.
The relative filed a complaint. Aliyev was arrested and spent nearly six years in a Baku prison.
Hasanova said Aliyev was hit hard while in prison and was taken to a hospital. He was treated for awhile and his condition improved. But the doctor advised that he should take medication.
According to Hasanova, his cousin often beat his wife: "He should take medicine, but when he felt somebody was trying to force medicine on him, he started to beat his wife, his children. For this reason, his wife fled many times to her father's house." But when he took medicine, it was good."
Sevda Mammadova confirmed that Afruz had repeatedly fled to her father's home. According to the aunt, at the time of the murder the victim was in the mountains near Kurdallar, where the family kept cattle.
After Aliyev's mother died, no one could give him his medicines at the right time. Therefore, they tried to make sure Afruz and her children were never alone with him.
But they did not succeed. Kurdallar village is located 2 hours from Toganaly. There are no more than 20 houses in the village. Most of the residents in the summer go to the pastures at the foot of Mount Murov and graze their cattle.
Afruz went to the pasture with her children and husband. According to her aunt, Aliyev did not drink his medicine that day. She was afraid to stay with him. She sent the children to a sister-in-law and told them: “When I finish my job, I'll come back.”
But there was a great rainfall that night and she could not go. She spent the night alone with her husband in Azgilli village.
Sevda Mammadova said Aliyev shut the door and attacked his wife. She held her hands up to try to protect herself, but Aliyev cut her hands and face with an ax. Then he cut off pieces of her feet.
In the morning, neighbors saw that Afruz did not take the cattle. They thought something was wrong and it had to do with her husband.
Her sister-in-law came and opened the door, and saw Aliyev sitting next to the slaughtered body and crying: “somebody killed my wife!”
The sister-in-law now refuses to talk about what she saw.
According to the victim's aunt, Aliyev loved his wife Afruz very much. "He was crying besides the corpse."
His brothers were notified and they called the police. The police took Aliyev for questioning. After his wife's body was examined at Goygol Central Hospital, it was taken to her father's home in Toganaly for burial.
Dashdemir Ismayilov, 83, the grandfather of the victim, said: "It is our fault. When she would escape and come to our house, we should have protected her. We didn't. She died very bad, and I can not forgive myself yet."
Neighbors say that Afruz repeatedly came to her grandfather because her mother did not accept her, and her father did not care about her.
Afruz's grandfather lived with his wife, son and grandson Bahruz, who had started a family of his own. So there was almost no room in the house. That's why Afruz had no place to go except her back to her husband.
The Goygol District Court sentenced Aliyev under Article 120, paragraph 2.4, of the Criminal Code for special cruelty or murder in a most dangerous way. He was sent to prison for life.
At the moment, Aliyev receives treatment at Mental Clinical No. 1 at Mashtagha settlement in Baku.
His brother takes care of the children, who go to secondary school in Goygol district. The family refused to be interviewed. The victim's aunt said they are taking care of the children very well.
Tunzala Hasanova, who cooked at the funeral of the deceased, said: "When I was preparing the food, her young son came to me and asked "where is Matan (his mother's nickname?)
"Because she had run away from home so often, her son thought she would come back again ... "