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Uzbek Asylum Seeker Loses Appeal In Kazakh Court

An Uzbek boy holds pictures of his father, who is in pretrial detention in Almaty, during a picket of Uzbek refugees' wifes against extradition to Uzbekistan in December.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The Almaty city court has upheld a decision by Kazakh authorities not to grant asylum to Uzbek citizen Shukhrat Kholbaev, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Kholbaev is one of 29 Uzbek Muslims to whom the Kazakh government refused refugee status in December. He is the 14th whose appeal was rejected by the court.

Kholbaev's lawyer, Anzhelika Rakhimberdina, told RFE/RL on May 13 that since the court's decision had been announced, her client could be extradited to Uzbekistan at any time.

She said she and her client planned to appeal the decision to the Kazakh Supreme Court.

Kholbaev and other asylum seekers are wanted in Uzbekistan for alleged involvement with banned religious groups.

The Uzbek asylum seekers say they are simply practicing Muslims and have not done anything wrong. They say they face jail and torture if sent back to Uzbekistan.

Kazakh police arrested all 29 of the Uzbek asylum seekers in June.

Kholbaev's wife, Rita Abisheva, who is a Kazakh citizen, told RFE/RL that she did not attend the May 13 court hearing, as she knew beforehand what the decision would be.

"I do not trust the Kazakh judicial system and courts," she said. "There is no need to be present."

Read more in Russian here