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Tajikistan Jails Leaders Of Banned Islamic Party

Islamic Renaissance Party leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who now lives in exile, has rejected the accusations.

Tajikistan has sentenced two leaders of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party (HNIT) to life imprisonment while several others have received lengthy prison terms.

A court in Dushanbe on June 2 delivered life sentences to the deputy party heads Saidumar Husaini and Muhammad Hayit.

Eleven other high-ranking HNIT officials were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 14 to 28 years.

Zurafo Rahmoni, the party's lawyer and the only woman in the high-profile trial, was sentenced to two years in prison.

The group stands accused of conspiring with former Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda in a supposed armed bid to seize power in early September 2015.

The trials have been held behind closed doors. The relatives of the defendants say they all pleaded not guilty and asked for lenient sentences.

The authorities said Nazarzoda led attacks on a police station and an arsenal that killed at least 26 people. Nazarzoda was reportedly killed in an operation by government forces.

Authorities blamed the HNIT for organizing the mutiny, while the Supreme Court banned the party, designating it an "extremist and terrorist organization."

Party leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who now lives in exile, has rejected the accusations.

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