Five former senior security officials in Uzbekistan's Bukhara region have been convicted of torture and abuse of office and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, a law enforcement official says.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make official statements, told RFE/RL on June 25 that a former chief of the National Security Service (MXX) directorate in Bukhara, Rustam Azimov, was sentenced to 14 years in prison a day earlier at a trial held behind closed doors.
The official said that four former associates of Azimov were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 16 to 18 years. In addition, four former guards at a detention center in the regional capital Bukhara were sentenced to 18 years each after being convicted on similar charges.
President Shavkat Mirziyoev has vowed to improve Uzbekistan's dismal human rights record and shake up government structures -- in particular the powerful MXX and Interior Ministry -- since he came to power following the death of long-ruling President Islam Karimov in 2016.
An Amnesty International report published months before the autocratic Karimov's death said that "torture is rife" in Uzbekistan.
In November 2017, Mirziyoev signed a decree prohibiting the courts from using evidence obtained through torture, but allegations of torture at the hands of law enforcement authorities have persisted.
Mirziyoev has publicly criticized the security service, comparing its practices with those of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's NKVD during the Great Terror in 1937-38.
In late January, Mirziyoev dismissed General Rustam Inoyatov, who led the security service for almost 23 years.
Several high-ranking security officials have been arrested or dismissed since then.