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Popular Tajik TV Host Sentenced To Prison For Fraud

DUSHANBE -- A court in Tajikistan has sentenced popular television anchorwoman Muattara Juraeva to six years in prison after convicting her of fraud.

During a trial that attracted close attention in the poor Central Asian nation, prosecutors accused Juraeva of using her popularity as a lever to borrow "significant amounts" of money from several people and failing to pay her debts.

Juraeva, 39, pleaded guilty and asked the court not to send her to jail, saying she will "work hard to return the money."

In a ruling late on March 17, Dushanbe court judge Safarbek Nuralizoda initially sentenced Juraeva to nine years in prison but lowered it to six, saying that the crime had been committed before an amnesty decreed by President Emomali Rakhmon last year.

Juraeva began working at state-run First Channel television in 2000. A news presenter at first, she became a star in her own right after launching her own program about the former Soviet republic's celebrities.

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