Uzbek preacher ‘died of torture’ 1

From BBC Online

An Uzbek imam has died in prison as a result of torture, his relatives and a rights activist claim. Shavkat Madumarov was serving seven years in jail for alleged ties with Wahhabis, strict Muslims who shun state-controlled mosques.

The Uzbek authorities have said that Madumarov died last month from an HIV infection and anaemia. His family say they were not allowed to see his body.

The UN has described the use of torture in Uzbek jails as “systematic”. Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, made similar claims, publicising the case of an Uzbek prisoner whom a British pathologist concluded had died from being immersed in boiling liquid.

Rights activist Surat Ikramov told the BBC Uzbek service that Madumarov’s family saw the imam three days before his death, at the final session of his trial. They said he was unable to stand and was brought in on a stretcher.

He complained to the judge that he had been given lots of injections, and that he did not know why, but the judge did not listen, Mr Ikramov said.

His relatives deny that he was HIV-positive, and say he was in good health before his detention in February.

Other cases

The case comes in the wake of several arrests of activists in Uzbekistan.

There are concerns about a human rights worker who is being confined in a psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of Tashkent, and three students from the capital who disappeared two weeks ago after mounting a brief protest outside the American embassy calling for political reforms.

BBC Central Asia correspondent Ian MacWilliam says there has been a wave of arrests of government critics in Uzbekistan since an outbreak of violence in the town of Andijan four months ago.

Witnesses say Uzbek troops opened fire on a popular protest, killing hundreds of civilians.

The Uzbek government says 187 people died, in what it called an uprising to create an Islamic state.

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