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Kazakh Court Denies Asylum Requests For Uzbek Refugees

ALMATY -- An Almaty city court has upheld a decision not to grant asylum to four Uzbek citizens wanted in Uzbekistan on charges of religious extremism and terrorism, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The court further confirmed that the four -- Oibek Kuldoshev, Kobiljon Kurbonov, Bakhriddin Nurillaev, and Bakhtiyor Nurillaev -- may not remain in Kazakhstan as refugees.

The men are currently being held at various pretrial detention centers in Almaty with 25 other Uzbeks who are awaiting a ruling on their applications for refugee status. They arrived in Kazakhstan with their families last year and have been held in detention since then.

The 29 Uzbek nationals are wanted in Uzbekistan for alleged extremist and terrorist activities. They and their wives insist that Uzbek authorities persecuted them only because they are practicing Muslims.

The men's wives and their lawyers brought medical certificates to the court hearing on February 22 stating that the men were beaten and tortured in Uzbek jails. They say the medical examinations were conducted immediately after they were released from jails last year.

Judge Elizaveta Bekzhanova refused to add the medical certificates to the case documents on the grounds that they were not the originals, but copies.

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