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Tajik Prosecutors Seek Life In Prison For Suspect In Foreign Cyclists' Killings

Out of five men the authorities accuse of carrying out the attack, Husein Abdusamadov is the only survivor.

DUSHANBE -- The state prosecutor in Tajikistan is seeking a sentence of life in prison for the main suspect in an attack that killed four foreign cyclists on a mountain road in July, RFE/RL has learned.

A participant in the closed-door trial of 15 suspects told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that the prosecutor made the request on November 19.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authorization to speak publicly on the matter, said that Husein Abdusamadov and the other defendants all made their final statements to the court.

The cyclists -- an American man and woman, a Dutchman, and a Swiss man -- were killed on July 29 when attackers plowed into their group on a road in southern Tajikistan and then stabbed some of them. Two foreign cyclists survived.

Out of five men the authorities accuse of carrying out the attack, Abdusamadov is the only survivor; officials say the others were killed by security forces during operations aimed at capturing the suspects.

Abdusamadov is on trial on nine charges. His co-defendants are accused of playing supporting roles in the attack.

There is no death penalty in Tajikistan, a mostly Muslim former Soviet republic in Central Asia. A verdict is expected soon.

The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack shortly after it occurred and released a video showing five men -- at least some of whom appeared to resemble those identified by Tajik officials as suspects killed in a confrontation with security forces -- pledging allegiance to the leader of IS.

The Tajik government, however, rejected the claim and instead blamed followers of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), a political party that was banned by the authoritarian President Emomali Rahmon's government in 2015.

The leadership of the IRPT -- which served for several years in the Tajik government -- has denied involvement and called the authorities' claims "shameless and illogical slander."

The trial started on October 23 and is being held behind closed doors inside Detention Center No. 1, a jail in Dushanbe.