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Dozens Of Uzbeks Tried For Assassination Attempt On Imam

TASHKENT -- A trial has started for some 70 people suspected of involvement in an assassination attempt against an Uzbek imam and the killing of an Interior Ministry official, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Surat Ikromov, of the Independent Group for Human Rights Defenders, told RFE/RL that some 60 people from the central Syrdarya region and 10 people from the southern Kashkadarya region are on trial for the July assassination attempt against Tashkent chief Imam Anvar qori Tursunov and the August murder of Hasan Asadov, the head of the Interior Ministry's counterterrorist department.

Ikromov said several relatives of some of the defendants told his organization that the trial had begun, but they did not know where it is being held. He added that he has contacted several courts, including the Tashkent criminal court, regional courts, and the Supreme Court, but none could provide any information about the trial.

Saida Umarova, the wife of defendant Sultanmukhammad Umarov of Tashkent, told RFE/RL that officials said by phone that the trial began on January 18, but she was not told where it was being held.

Umarova said she has not seen her husband since his arrest on August 30 and does not know what he has been charged with.

Imam Tursunov was stabbed three times on July 31 and required hospitalization. Asadov was shot dead in his Tashkent home on August 9.

Some experts connected Asadov's death with the August 29 shootout near the Kukcha Mosque in Tashkent. At least two people were reported killed and three police were wounded in the clash.