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Death Penalty Demand Dropped In Uzbek Terror Trial

20 August 2004 -- Uzbek prosecutors today said they would not seek the death penalty in the trial of 15 people charged in connection with suicide bombings and shoot-outs that claimed 47 lives earlier this year.

Uzbekistan's state prosecutor, Murad Salikhov, told judges that because the defendants pleaded guilty and cooperated actively with law enforcement bodies, he would not ask to use the death penalty.

All of the defendants, including two women, have pleaded guilty to the 17 charges against them.

But human rights campaigners have charged that their pleas were obtained through torture and have questioned the validity of the proceedings against them.

The prosecutor said the state was seeking the maximum 20-year prison term for four of the defendants and would ask for jail terms of between nine and 18 years for the remaining 11.