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New Criminal Code In Force In Tajikistan

DUSHANBE -- A new Criminal Procedure Code has come into effect in Tajikistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The new code transfers to courts some powers previously held by prosecutors.

Hazratqul Ibrohimov, an aide to the head of the Supreme Court, told RFE/RL that they include the power to issue arrest warrants, permission for phone taps, the freezing of assets, property confiscation, and other operations if investigators can prove such a necessity.

Ibrohimov said investigators must also explain their reasons for keeping suspects behind bars.

The previous Criminal Procedure Code had been in force since 1961.

Another important point, according to Ibrohimov, is that the code mandates the presence of a suspect and his lawyer during the announcement of charges.

Lawyer Abduqayum Yusufov said that the previous code permitted a maximum of 15 months of pretrial detention.

But he said this point was often ignored because a court could order a new trial and in such cases the previous time spent in pretrial detention was written off, leaving some suspects in pretrial detention for years.

Yusufov noted that under the new code, pretrial detention and all other additional investigations can last a maximum of 18 months.

Mahmadali Vatanov, a former judge who is a member of the lower house of parliament, told RFE/RL that the new code ensures equality between the prosecution and the defense, which has a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

The new code was ratified last year after years of discussion.