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HRW Acknowledges Erroneous Uzbek Torture Allegation

2 June 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Human Rights Watch (HRW) has acknowledged in a press release that it made an error in accusing Uzbek police of torturing Andrei Shelkovenko to death while he was in a holding cell.

The New York-based organization, along with Shelkovenko's family, made the allegation after his death last month at the police station in Gazalkent.

The police said Shelkovenko died of suicide. Uzbek authorities agreed to allow a group of U.S. and Canadian experts to observe the Uzbek investigation and also a second autopsy. It was the first time international experts have been granted such access.

Earlier this week, the panel of experts concluded that Shelkovenko died from hanging himself, not by torture.

Rachel Denber, acting director of the HRW division in Central Asia said on 1 June that Uzbekistan should continue the practice of allowing independent observations in cases where torture is alleged.

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