KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- The trial in Tajikistan of 53 people suspected of belonging to the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) thought to be behind a suicide car-bomb attack last year began today, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
On September 3, 2010, Akmal Karimov drove a car packed with explosives into the main gate of the headquarters of the Anti-Organized Crime Police Directorate in the northern city of Khujand, killing himself and three others and injuring 28 people.
It was the first-ever such suicide bombing reported in Tajikistan.
Karimov's brother, Firdavs Karimov, is one of the 53 suspected IMU members who are accused of planning and participating in the attack.
Forty of the suspects are residents of the town of Istravshan in Sughd Province. One of them is under 18, according to the 20 lawyers who are defending the group.
Suicide bomber Akmal Karimov was born in Istravshan but lived in Khujand. Officials say Karimov was charged with kidnapping in 2009 but left the country and underwent training at terrorist camps in Afghanistan.
Yusuf Rahimov, the Sughd provincial prosecutor, told RFE/RL today he is confident that the charges of membership in a terrorist and extremist group will be proved during the trial.
Nekruz Hamzaaliev, a lawyer for suspects Shuhrat Ghafurov and Murodjon Quzibekov, told RFE/RL today that during the pretrial investigation all the suspects confessed their guilt but some may retract their confessions in court.
Hamzaaliev did not elaborate, but some local newspapers and human rights activists have accused the security forces of resorting to torture during the pretrial investigation in order to secure the confessions.
The trial in Khujand for the 53 suspects is being held behind closed doors.