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Tajik Supreme Court, Independent Newspapers Settle Dispute

DUSHANBE -- A legal dispute between three Tajik Supreme Court judges and three independent newspapers lasting over a year has been settled out of court, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Amriddin Safoev, who presided over the hearings in Dushanbe's Sino district court, confirmed on April 19 that a settlement has been reached. But he noted that all parties involved may challenge it within 10 days.

The case was triggered in January 2010 when the independent newspapers "Ozodagon," "Farazh," and "Asia Plus" published a statement by lawyer Solehjon Juraev accusing the Supreme Court of corruption.

Three Supreme Court judges accused the three papers of defamation and demanded 5.5 million somonis ($1,230,870) in compensation for moral damages.

In February, the same Sino district court found another independent weekly, "Millat," guilty of libel and ordered it to pay the Ministry of Agriculture 1,500 somonis ($333) in damages and publish a formal apology for an article that accused the ministry of corruption.

"Millat" has appealed the ruling with Dushanbe City Court.