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Member Of Banned Tajik Party Reportedly Dies In Jail

A leading member of a banned opposition party in Tajikistan jailed for purportedly showing support for the extremist Islamic State (IS) group in his town has reportedly died in jail.

The Ozodagon website reported on August 16 that Qurbon Mannonov, 73, died in a detention facility in Dushanbe overnight. The site quoted Mannonov's relatives as reporting the death. No official confirmation has been made.

Mannonov was the head of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan's (IRPT) branch in the city of Nurak, 70 kilometers southeast of the capital, Dushanbe.

He and 12 others were arrested in August 2015 in the wake of the government's crackdown on the IRPT, which was banned shortly afterwards.

Mannonov was accused of masterminding the raising of an Islamic State flag in Nurak. He rejected the charges as being politically motivated.

In February, the detained party members were sentenced to prison terms of between 10 and 25 years.

In June, a court in Dushanbe sentenced the IRPT's deputy heads to life imprisonment and 12 other leading members of the party to prison terms of between two and 28 years on charges of conspiring with former Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda in a supposed armed bid to seize power in September 2015.

Party leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who now lives in exile, rejected the accusations.

With reporting by Ozodagon