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Jailed Tajik Lawyer's Prison Term Shortened As Part Of Mass Amnesty

Jailed Tajik lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov
Jailed Tajik lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov

DUSHANBE -- The 28-year prison sentence of jailed Tajik lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov has been shortened as part of a recent mass amnesty.

Ilhom Mahmudov, deputy chief of Tajikistan's Penitentiary Service, told RFE/RL on November 26 that according to the mass amnesty announced in October to mark the 25th anniversary of the Central Asian nation's constitution, Yorov's prison term had been cut by six years.

Officials at the Prosecutor-General's Office told RFE/RL that the amnesty had also allowed for a shortening of the 21-year prison term for another jailed lawyer, Nuriddin Mahkamov. He gave no further details.

The two lawyers were sentenced in October 2016 on charges of issuing public calls for the overthrow of the government and inciting social unrest.

Yorov's 23-year prison term was later extended by five years after a court in Dushanbe found him guilty of contempt of court and insulting a government official.

Yorov and Mahkamov have denied any wrongdoing, insisting that their trial was politically motivated because they defended members and leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, a group that was banned in 2015 as a terrorist organization.

Western governments and human rights organizations have urged the Tajik government to release the two.

In September, Yorov was awarded the Faiziniso Vohidova Human Rights Prize for his contribution to the development of democratic institutions and civil rights in Tajikistan.

The award, established by the Association of Central Asian Migrants in Europe, was handed to Yorov's brother Jamshed Yorov in Warsaw at the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Yorov was also shortlisted for the 2019 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

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