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Trial Starts In Tajikistan For Prison Escapees

The trial of the men is being held behind closed doors
The trial of the men is being held behind closed doors
DUSHANBE -- The trial of nine men recaptured after a high-profile jailbreak in Tajikistan last year has started at the Supreme Court in Dushanbe, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The nine escaped convicts are accused of murder, banditry, illegal weapon possession, and other serious crimes. The trial -- which is being held behind closed doors by the Supreme Court's military board -- includes other defendants who are alleged to be members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and a man, Sayriddin Azizov, who is accused of helping the escapees evade capture.

On August 22, 2010, 25 prisoners escaped from a detention center in Dushanbe run by the State Committee of National Security. Four prison guards were killed during the jailbreak.

The inmates had been jailed for various crimes including terrorism, kidnapping, drug trafficking, attempting to overthrow the government, and membership in banned Islamic groups.

Fourteen of the escapees are Tajik citizens, five are Russian, four are Afghans, and two are Uzbek citizens.

Seven months after the breakout, 12 of the escapees have been captured, three were killed by security forces, and the remaining 10 are still on the run.

Five of the escapees -- three of whom were Afghans -- were detained in Afghanistan at the end of last year but Kabul decided to try them in their homeland.

After the mass jailbreak, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon fired the head of the State Committee for National Security and three of his deputies.

Tajikistan's former security minister, Saidamir Zuhurov, told RFE/RL that incompetent prison officers and their commanders should be blamed for the jailbreak.