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15 Uzbeks Go On Trial For Attacks

27 July 2004 -- Uzbekistan's government yesterday put on trial the first 15 suspects allegedly involved in a series of attacks earlier this year that killed 47 people.

Two defendants spoke in the Tashkent court of being coerced into joining a group called Jamoat, an extremist organization with suspected ties with the Al-Qaeda network.

One defendant said Jamoat leader Akhmad Bekmirzaev died in the attacks in late March and early April. The defendant said the leader had previously cooperated with Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic group banned throughout Central Asia for its call to create a regional, pan-Islamic state.

The 13 male and two female defendants face charges that include religious extremism and attempting to overthrow the government.

It is unclear how many people will be tried for the attacks, which killed 10 police, 33 alleged attackers, and four bystanders. The prosecutor-general has said 45 suspects are in jail.