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Uzbek Activist's Criminal Trial Opens Outside Tashkent

(RFE/RL) 30 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The trial of Mutabar Tojiboeva, a high-profile rights activist, started today in a courtroom outside the capital Tashkent.

The launch of Tojiboeva's trial comes as authorities prosecute two high-profile opposition leaders -- Sanjar Umarov and Nodira Khidoyatova -- in separate trials for alleged financial crimes.

Critics have suggested the processes are politically motivated, a charge that authorities have denied.

Cutoff From The World

Tojiboeva was detained in early October and prevented from attending a human rights conference in Dublin, Ireland, where she was scheduled to deliver a speech on human rights violations in Uzbekistan.

Tojiboeva's relatives have repeatedly complained that they are being refused access to the jailed activist, despite her allegedly poor health.

Tojiboeva is charged with more than a dozen crimes that vary from slander and defamation of a government official to damaging the environment.

Surat Ikramov, the head of Center for Human Rights Initiatives in Tashkent, has been closely following Tojiboeva's case, as well as the trials of other activists. Ikramov told RFE/RL that he and other independent human rights activists, including from New York-based Human Rights Watch, were not allowed to enter the courtroom today.

"At 8 a.m., we went to the Quyi-Chirchiq regional court in Soldatskoe town, some 70 kilometers from Tashkent, for Mutabar Tojiboeva's trial," Ikramov said. "Police didn't let us in. We waited for some time, and [Tojiboeva's] lawyer arrived. The lawyer tried to talk the judge and others into letting us in, but to no avail. We were not allowed to monitor the trial. We returned to Tashkent."

Ikramov said that Tojiboeva could face up to 15 years in prison if she is convicted.

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Central Asia In Focus

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