New 'terror' trial begins in Uzbekistan

The former Soviet Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan has put another 16 people on trial on terrorism-related charges, a human rights campaigner, Tulkin Korayev, has said.

    President Karimov's government has detained about 6000 people

    He told AFP on Friday that the trials "began under tight security without

    journalists or rights defenders being informed" in Karshi, a town in

    southern Uzbekistan about 170km (105 miles) from the border

    with Afghanistan. Karshi is near an airbase used by government forces.


    The defendants are accused of terrorism, extremist activity and

    infringing the constitutional order, but it was unclear whether the

    charges were related to a string of explosions and shootings which

    left at least 47 people dead early this year, Korayev said.


    Fifteen other people who went on trial said their confessions were 

    extracted under torture.


    Korayev said that at least one defendant in the Karshi trials

    had alleged that he too was tortured while in custody.


    Campaigners such as the New York-based Human Rights Watch have

    criticised the harshness and lack of impartiality in the courts

    under the government of President Islam Karimov and have estimated that

    about 6000 people are imprisoned on political or religious



    Two years ago, a United Nations rapporteur said torture by

    the security forces in Uzbekistan was systematic.



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