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20 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The trial of 15 men charged with organizing an uprising in an eastern Uzbek town that ended in bloodshed opened amid tight security in Tashkent today.
The defendants are accused of plotting an Islamic rebellion and face charges including terrorism, illegal weapons possession, murder, hostage-taking, and freeing prisoners.
The accused include three citizens of neighboring Kyrgyzstan.
If found guilty, the defendants could face the death penalty or long prison terms.
The Uzbek government says 187 people were killed in the eastern town of Andijon in May, most of them terrorists, soldiers, and local officials. Prosecutors say participants in the revolt had planned to overthrow the government and set up an Islamic state.
Human rights groups say hundreds of people were killed in a massacre by security forces, most of them civilians who were protesting against poor social conditions. The New York-based Human Rights Watch says it has documented a campaign by authorities to force bogus testimony from witnesses about the events in Andijon.
More than 100 other people are under investigation in the case. The Uzbek government has ignored international calls for an independent inquiry.
(Reuters/AP)For RFE/RL's full coverage of the Andijon unrest and its aftermath, see "Unrest In Uzbekistan"
Factbox: Andijon Timeline