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Tajikistan Jails Warlord For Killing BBC Reporter

DUSHANBE (Reuters) -- Tajikistan's Supreme Court has found a former rebel warlord guilty of murdering a BBC journalist in 1995 and jailed him for 15 years, a court spokesman said.

Mukhiddin Olimpur, the BBC's chief Farsi language service correspondent in Tajikistan, was killed at the height of a civil war that pitted Tajikistan's Russian-backed government against an alliance of Islamists and liberals.

The court spokesman said Nasrullo Sharifov, who fought on the Islamists' side as a field commander during the war, had been sentenced to 15 years for killing Olimpur.

"Sharifov was directly involved in the murder and confessed during the investigation and court hearings that he personally fired twice at Mukhiddin Olimpur from a Makarov pistol," the spokesman said.

More than 100,000 people died on both sides during the war, which started shortly after Tajikistan gained independence from the Soviet Union and lasted until 1997. The conflict ruined the Muslim country's economy and infrastructure.

President Emomali Rakhmon, credited at home for bringing stability after years of fighting and chaos, is criticized by liberals for tolerating little political dissent and not doing enough to fight poverty and corruption.