Europe’s top human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, has launched an investigation into alleged corruption at the council involving Azerbaijan.

The criticisms concern some members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), accused of doing favours for Azerbaijan.

The oil-rich ex-Soviet state has cracked down on political dissidents.

There are suspicions that Azerbaijan influenced PACE’s rejection of a report on Azeri political prisoners in 2013.

Azerbaijan is among the 47 member nations of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe.

The council – not part of the EU – monitors compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, and judges in Strasbourg enforce it.

In January 2013 PACE rejected a report by German Social Democrat MP Christoph Strässer, which deplored human rights abuses in Azerbaijan and urged the authorities there to release political prisoners.

The Azeri government denies that charges against opposition activists are politically motivated.

Opponents of President Ilham Aliyev have been jailed on various charges, including tax evasion, spying and weapons possession.

Further details and source: BBC