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Rights Watchdog Says Uzbek Man Died In Police Custody

21 May 2004 -- Human Rights Watch says that an Uzbek man has died in police custody from apparent torture, the fifth such case documented in the past year.

The international watchdog organization said today that Andrei Shelkavenko died on 18 May in a detention center in Gazalkent, 50 kilometers northeast of the capital, Tashkent, three weeks after his arrest on suspicion of murder.

A Human Rights Watch representative who saw Shelkavenko's body said it was marked with cuts, bruises, and other wounds consistent with torture. Authorities said Shelkavenko died on the way to a hospital after attempting to hang himself in his cell.

The group said this was the fifth death from apparent torture in Uzbek police custody since May 2003, when the United States last certified that the country had made sufficient progress in human rights to qualify for U.S. assistance.