The Tashkent city court sentenced 16 suspects of religious extremism on 12 December: some of them were fined, others received prison terms ranging from eight to 12 years, the Ezgulik human rights organisation has said.
They were charged with promoting the overthrow of Uzbekistan’s constitutional order and spreading ideas of separatism and religious extremism, as well as funding their extremist organisation.
Only Akmal Ollonurov and Bahodir Dadajonov admitted their guilt and were sentenced to 12 years in prison, Ezgulik said.
The two men gave testimonies that the other men did not take part in the Islamic Movement of Turkestan.
That the other suspects are not guilty of anything is also maintained by their relatives.
“Our children faced
|Our children faced torture in a detention centre and their confessions were obtained by violence""|
torture in a detention centre and their confessions were obtained by violence," they said.
The relatives maintained that they had not even heard their children talk about the Islamic Movement of Turkestan and doubted that this organisation existed.
Their doubts are also shared by the head of the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Activists of Uzbekistan (IGIHRAU), Surat Ikramov.
“I have never heard of such organisation and perhaps security services themselves invented it,” he said.
Ikramov believes gross violations of the law were committed during the investigation into this case.
“Under noble pretexts people were invited to police, then were taken to court where for trumped-up administrative violations they were sentenced to 15 days in prison but instead of a special detention centre in the Panelnyy neighbourhood they were taken to the city detention centre where they were ‘worked’ upon,” Ikramov said.
He said all this had taken place without lawyers and relatives’ awareness.
“The trial was held behind closed doors which is why I do not know whether strong evidence of their guilt was presented: explosives, Kalashnikov assault rifles or any extremist literature,” Ikramov said.
He doubted such evidence had been presented.
“The IGIHRAU has been following trials on extremism cases in the past 12 years, and only 5% of suspects admitted their membership of radical organisations, while all the others were innocent,” Ikramov said.
Ezgulik followed this case and is against the conviction of innocent people.
It urged higher courts to “adhere to principles of just trial and solve violations of procedural legislation during the investigation and lower court trial”.