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Controversial Tajik Police Official Promoted

Safarali Sangov in an undated photo
DUSHANBE -- A Tajik police commander implicated in the death of a man in police custody has been appointed to a top Interior Ministry post, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik Interior Ministry spokesman Mahmadullo Asadulloev told RFE/RL today that Colonel Rahmonqul Davlatov has been named the ministry's head of internal security. He previously headed the first police unit in Dushanbe's Sino district.

Davlatov admitted in an interview with the newspaper "Asia Plus" that he personally ordered the detention of Safarali Sangov on March 1. Sangov was hospitalized the next day and died several days later from injuries sustained in what his relatives say was a severe beating at the Sino district police station.

Police say Sangov tried to commit suicide by hurling himself down two flights of stairs and then, when he was returned to the interrogation room, by repeatedly banging his head against a wall.

On June 6, Prosecutor-General Zainiddin Juraev announced that two former police officers, Abdurahmon Yakubov and Kodir Hasanov, had been charged with negligence in connection with Sangov's suicide.

Juraev said the policemen did not handcuff Sangov with his hands behind his back, as required by regulations, but with his hands in front of him. That, he said, gave Sangov the opportunity to commit suicide as he was able to push away his police escort.

That statement upset Sangov's relatives in the courtroom. They say several police officers participated in his arrest on March 1 and suggested that more than two police officers may have been involved in the beating that led to his death.

They insist Sangov was severely beaten and that his death was not a suicide.

Asadulloev told RFE/RL today that Davlatov did not play any role in Sangov's detention.

Davlatov's predecessor as Interior Ministry internal security chief was Saydullo Pirov, who died in a hotel in Khujand in February in unclear circumstances.

The Prosecutor-General's Office rejected an official verdict of suicide and classified his death as a murder.