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Central Asia: Tajikistan Accepts OSCE Appeal For Retrial In Murder Case

Tajikistan has agreed to a new trial for a 21-year-old woman convicted of murder in circumstances which international organizations consider doubtful. RFE/RL's Roland Eggleston reports.

Munich, 14 July 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov told ambassadors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe yesterday (Thursday) that his government will allow a new trial for a woman who was sentenced to death for murder.

The OSCE said today (Friday) that Nazarov told the delegation that the woman, Dilfuza Nomonova, will not be executed pending the new trial. He said a presidential decree on the decision to rehear the case will be published next Tuesday (18 July).

Nomonova is accused of having shot and killed her lover on 15 November last year. She was sentenced to death in February. The man, Komil Kurbonov, was a member of a politically powerful Dushanbe family.

The OSCE, Amnesty International, and other international organizations have criticized the handling of the case, saying the court did not give sufficient weight to several contradictions in the evidence.

Seventeen OSCE ambassadors visiting Dushanbe told the foreign minister yesterday they had also received reports that the woman was beaten during her interrogation and in prison. They said she has retracted a confession she made during her interrogation in which she said she had accidentally fired a shot while playing with his pistol.

The OSCE also protested that Nomonova was taken from jail on 21 January and forced against her will to undergo an abortion at a Dushanbe hospital. Pregnant women may not be executed under Tajik law.

The OSCE said today its mission in Dushanbe has had several meetings with the Tajik interior minister, Homidden Sharipov, about the case and has expressed concern about Nomonova's safety in prison. OSCE said today it has been told that Sharipov has sent a commission to the prison to investigate her situation.

OSCE officials in Dushanbe (who did not wish to be identified) said today they consider that a new trial is a better solution than commutation of the death sentence. A death sentence can only be commuted to 25 years imprisonment, while a rehearing gives Nomonova a chance to prove her innocence.

The OSCE says it will ask for permission to monitor the trial and provide legal assistance for Nomonova. It will also press the Tajik prosecutor-general to reopen investigations into the case, including the background of the dead man's family, and to question a man who Nomonova has said was a possible suspect.

The OSCE chairwoman, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, met Nomonova's mother during a visit to Dushanbe in May. The mother has also appealed to President Imomali Rakhmonov to intervene in the case.