The former director of Tajikistan’s National Library has gone on trial on charges of violating a law that curtails spending on weddings, funerals, and other private gatherings.
Saifiddin Nazarzoda is the first government official to be removed from his post and face trial for violating the country’s newly amended law.
In the court hearing that began on September 21, Nazarzoda rejected the accusation that the number of the guests at a breakfast party following his son’s summer wedding, exceeded Tajikistan's legal limit.
Nazarzoda told the court that representatives of the state anticorruption agency came to the breakfast party uninvited, "ate the food and also filmed" the gathering.
The recording was later broadcast on a state TV program that preceded Nazarzoda’s August 15 dismissal from his post.
Nazarzoda claims authorities recorded the same guests several times from different angles on their video, giving a false impression that there were more guests at the gathering.
A law regulating private parties was initially adopted in 2007 after the country's President Emomali Rahmon said the tradition of hosting lavish gatherings puts financial strains on families in the impoverished Central Asian country.
In August, Tajikistan amended the law to introduce further restrictions on private functions.