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KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- A court in northern Tajikistan has sentenced eight men for the murder of a bazaar administrator last year, RFE/RL's Tajik Serice reports.

Mansur Karimjonov, Abdullo Komilov, Fayyoz Muhiddinov, Suhrob Zohidov, Nemat Sharifov, Abdusattor Zohidov, and Zokirboy Homidov were found guilty on September 26 of the murder on August 30, 2010, of Homid Karimov, the head of a bazaar in Isfara's Surkh council.

The Sughd Province court said on September 26 that the motive for the killing was personal enmity and disputed business dealings.

The seven were sentenced to between 20 and 25 years in prison. An eighth man, Mahkam Karimjanov, was jailed for five years for failing to inform the authorities about the plot to kill Karimov.

Sughd Province Deputy Prosecutor Fozil Okhunov said the verdict is fair but the men can challenge it in the Supreme Court if they wish.

Homidov's lawyer, Sitora Sharifova, said the verdict is harsh and unfair.

She said that at least four of the men sentenced, including Homidov, did not directly take part in the murder. Sharifova said Karimov was killed by two people who left the region immediately afterward and have not been arrested.

Just days after the eight murder suspects were detained, a suicide bomber targeted the Khujand police on September 3, 2010, in what many people thought was an act of revenge by someone linked to the suspects.

Both the suicide bomber and the murder suspects were thought by many to belong to the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

But the murder investigation ruled out any connection between the eight accused and either the IMU or the suicide bomber attack.
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