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Uzbek Songwriter's Trial Opened, Adjourned

July 31, 2006 -- The trial of dissident Uzbek singer and poet Dadakhon Hasan opened and adjourned in Tashkent today, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

The 66-year-old Hasan is charged with defamation of the Uzbek president, activities to undermine the constitution, and the preparation and distribution materials threatening to public security and order.

Independent human rights activists insist the real reason behind Hasan's persecution is a song he wrote about the bloody May 2005 crackdown by authorities in Andijon.

Hasan told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service on July 30 that he had not distributed the song.

"Some people from Bukhara played the song in a bus. I don't know how they got it," he said. "[An audiotape with the song] was stolen from my car. There is apparently an article in the criminal code [that punishes the writing of] this kind of song. What can I do? Nothing."

Hasan was persecuted during Soviet times for singing nationalist anti-Russian songs.

In 1992, Uzbek authorities banned him from performing public concerts.

Due to a larger-than-expected presence of diplomatic representatives, the court adjourned until August 4 while officials consider how many foreigners can attend the trial and where they can sit while court is in session.

(with additional reporting)