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Uzbek Rights Activist Wins Lawsuit Against State Over Illegal Imprisonment But Will Appeal

Choyan Mamatqulov (file photo)

QARSHI, Uzbekistan -- In an unprecedented move, a court in Uzbekistan has ordered the state to pay financial compensation to human rights activist Choyan Mamatqulov for illegally keeping him in prison.

Mamatqulov told RFE/RL on October 12 that the Qashqadaryo region court in the country's south had ruled on October 9 that the government must pay him 60 million soms ($5,800).

However, Mamatqulov, who demanded 500 million soms ($48,300) as compensation, said the amount offered by the state is not sufficient for the ordeal he was put through while in prison.

He said he plans to appeal the ruling.

Mamatqulov, 50, is an outspoken defender of human rights who filed a lawsuit in 2005 against then-President Islam Karimov, accusing him of violating the rights of military personnel.

He was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2013 on fraud, perjury, and kidnapping charges, which Mamatqulov and his supporters rejected as baseless, and human rights watchdogs described as politically motivated.

Mamatqulov was released in March 2018 and given the right to a new trial. He was acquitted on all charges in March 2020.

Since President Shavkat Mirziyoev came to power in 2016 following Karimov's death, Uzbekistan has released more than 50 political prisoners. They include activists, journalists, and human rights campaigners who were jailed by Karimov's regime.

The ruling obliging the state to pay compensation to Mamatqulov is the first case when an officially exonerated former inmate receives some financial assistance after spending years in prison.