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Tajik Opposition Politician Cleared Of Human-Trafficking Charge

KULOB, Tajikistan -- A court in southern Tajikistan has ruled that a regional leader of the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party and another man are not guilty of human trafficking, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Judge Ilhom Komilov told RFE/RL the court in the town of Kulob did not find anything illegal in the activities of the two accused men.

Abdufattoh Abdukholiqov, who heads the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party branch in the Vose district of Khatlon province, told RFE/RL he was satisfied with the court ruling.

Davlat Najmiddinov, who heads the anti-organized-crime department in Kulob district, told RFE/RL in April when the criminal case was opened that Abdukholiqov and Nematullo Sharifov paid $500 to the mother of a 16-year-old girl whom they allegedly planned to sell to someone in Russia.

At the same time, Abdukholiqov told RFE/RL that the girl was his relative and that he was trying to help her by arranging a marriage for her in Russia. Abdukholiqov added that the $500 was the dowry that should be paid to any Muslim girl by her future husband.

The alleged trafficking victim's sister, Parvina Sabzaeva, who police claimed had been trafficked to Russia earlier, told RFE/RL that Abdukholiqov had helped her to find a husband and a job and begin a life abroad.

She said the family asked Abdukholiqov to do the same for her sister.

The prosecutor's office has 10 days to appeal the court verdict.