DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's Supreme Court has sentenced 28 people to jail -- including seven life sentences -- for "supporting a terrorist group," RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Muzaffar Davlatov, 78, and six others from the eastern district of Rasht, were sentenced to life imprisonment on November 11 by the court in Dushanbe. Twenty-one other defendants received sentences ranging from two to 30 years.
Davlatov is the father of alleged Islamic insurgent leader Alovuddin Davlatov (aka Ali Bedaki).
Tajik authorities allege that insurgent leader Abdullo Rahimov (aka Mullo Abdullo) and his followers, including Bedaki, were behind the September 19, 2010 attack on Tajik security forces in the Kamarob Gorge in the Rasht district in which at least 26 soldiers were killed in an ambush.
In January 2011, Bedaki and seven of his armed followers were killed in a controversial operation by government forces in the village of Runob, and Mullo Abdullo was killed in April in the neighboring Nurobod district.
Tajik affairs analyst Amniyat Abdunazar described the sentences as severe in an interview with RFE/RL. He said that if the defendants provided Islamic insurgents with food or shelter they did so out of fear, not sympathy for their cause.
Urunboy Bobosharofov, the lawyer of Muzaffar Davlatov, said that he will appeal the decision because his client did not deny that he met his son during the rebellion against Tajik forces but never gave him any instructions and never supported him.
Bobosharofov said Alovuddin Davlatov advised his father not to interfere in his activities.
The Interior Ministry detained two doctors this spring -- Abdullo Vazirov and Muhammadkholiq Sodiqov -- accusing them of providing medical treatment to the rebels. The doctors were also reportedly sentenced to jail terms, according to the judge of their trial, but no details about their cases have been made public.
Tajik affairs analyst Mahmadali Haitov, who is also the deputy head of the opposition Islamic Rennaisance Party, told RFE/RL on November 11 that the government provided no comprehensive report about last year's insurgency in Rasht.
He added that the long sentences given to so many people from the region would not restore trust between local residents and the central government.