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Tajik Justice Ministry Criticizes Security Committee Over Jailbreak

Islamic militants who escaped from prison in Dushanbe
Islamic militants who escaped from prison in Dushanbe
DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's Justice Ministry says it is trying to determine whether negligence on the part of the State Committee of National Security contributed to the escape of 25 prisoners on August 22 from a prison in Dushanbe, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The prisoners, many of them Islamic militants serving lengthy prison terms, escaped during the night of August 22 after killing at least five prison guards.

Justice Ministry prisons division spokeswoman Parvina Alizoda told RFE/RL that many questions about the escape remain unanswered, including why only three guards were on duty that night to supervise 90 prisoners.

Alizoda said she cannot understand why the prison guards performed the Taroveh Ramadan night prayer together in a prison corridor. She said that at approximately 10:20 p.m., immediately after the prayers, one of the inmates claimed to be suffering from acute stomach pains and requested emergency medical care. The guard who opened his cell door was killed and the remaining two guards taken captive, she said.

She said the prisoners then had three hours to shave, shower, and take possession of available military uniforms and weapons.

According to Alizoda, the rebels opened all the cells and invited the other prisoners to escape with them, but most of them declined the offer.

Alizoda said another question to the State Committee of National Security pertains to prisoner Ibrohim Nasriddinov, who was extradited to Tajikistan from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

According to Alizoda, Nasriddinov was sentenced to 23 years in a prison in Qurghonteppa, but the State Committee of National Security asked to transfer him to its prison in Dushanbe. She added that Nasriddinov had access to cell keys and did not sleep with the other inmates.

The State Committee of National Security prison is located within Prison No. 1, which is under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry. Alizoda said that Justice Ministry prison guards raised the alarm when the prisoners left the National Security Committee facility, but the escapees killed four of them.