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Tajik Pop Star Jailed For Helping Fiance Flee Court


Farzona Khurshed in court on February 9

Farzona Khurshed in court on February 9

DUSHANBE -- Tajik pop singer Farzona Khurshed was sentenced today to two years in prison for helping her fiance escape from a courthouse last month, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The Dushanbe district court also sentenced Farzona's fiance, Farrukh Ruziev, to 10 years in prison for fraud. Two police officers were found guilty of neglecting their duties and given jail terms of two years and 18 months, respectively.

The lawyer for Farzona -- who is known by her first name -- said she and her client would not accept the verdict and have asked for a retrial. They said they would appeal the court ruling if that request was rejected.

According to Dilovar Mizrob, Farzona's promoter and producer, Ruziev pled guilty to the charges against him and said he is the one who acted wrongly in leaving the courthouse. He said Farzona did not know that his trial was not finished.

Prosecutors accused Farzona of helping Ruziev flee the courthouse on January 16 by asking police to allow him to speak with her outside the courtroom. The police agreed and the pair then left the building and drove to a resort outside Dushanbe, where the police apprehended them.

Farzona, 20, said she assumed that if he was able to leave the courtroom, he was free to go.

Farzona's mother, Surayo Qosimova, and her sister Shabnam Surayo -- both well-known singers in Tajikistan -- were present in court. They urged the judges to consider that Farzona is young and did not intend to commit a crime.

Qosimova fainted after the verdict was announced. The trial was attended by many famous Tajik entertainers. Dozens of Farzona's fans waited outside the courthouse for the verdict.
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