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Uzbek Rights Groups Point To Possible Torture Death

3 January 2005 -- Two Uzbek human rights groups are today calling attention to the case of an Uzbek man whose family members say authorities tortured to death.

The independent rights groups Ezgulik and the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan are calling attention to the possible torture death of Samandar Umarov, who had been serving a 17-year prison sentence for belonging to the outlawed Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Umarov's sister, Yashnar Umarova, today told RFE/RL that her brother's body was brought to her today in a condition that leads her to believe he was tortured.

"There was blood everywhere, his jaw was broken, and face damaged severely," she said. "The sides of his body were bruised. This is what we saw."

The Associated Press quoted Svetlana Artikova, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor-General's Office, as saying that a preliminary autopsy on Umarov's body suggests that he died from a stroke.

Artikova said prosecutors have opened an "additional" investigation into Umarov's death, but gave no further details.

(RFE/RL's Uzbek Service/AP)

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