Uzbekistan: Former chief prosecutor at risk of torture while on trial, Amnesty says

TASHKENT (TCA) — Amnesty International says former Uzbek Prosecutor-General Rashidjon Qodirov who is on trial on corruption charges is at risk of being subjected to torture, RFE/RL reported.

On April 8, Amnesty distributed a letter addressed to Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev urging him to “ensure [Rashidjon Qodirov] and his 12 co-defendants are protected from torture and other ill-treatment and that they have prompt access to necessary and adequate medical care.”

The letter quoted “credible reports,” saying that his detention on February 21, Qodirov “has been subjected to physical abuse, mock executions, sleep deprivation and other ill-treatment.”

Amnesty called on those concerned by the defendants’ situation to either write personal appeals to Mirziyoev or use its letter as a model to “urge [him] to launch an impartial investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment against” Qodirov and his co-defendants.

Qodirov’s trial behind closed doors started in Tashkent in early January. He was arrested in February 2018 and charged with extortion, bribery, and abuse of office.

Qodirov’s arrest came about three years after he was fired amid a purge of officials connected to the investigation of Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of late President Islam Karimov.

Qodirov, who served as the country’s top law enforcement official for 15 years, was the prosecutor-general in 2014 when Karimova was detained and charged with corruption.

Her arrest came after reports emerged first in Swedish media in 2013 that Karimova used her position to serve as a gatekeeper for international telecom companies looking to invest in Uzbekistan.

Uzbek officials said later that Karimova was sentenced in December 2017 to a 10-year prison term. But the following July, the sentence was reclassified to house arrest and shortened to five years.

Uzbekistan became isolated and economically stagnant under Karimov, who tightly ruled the country after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Since Karimov’s death in 2016, his successor Mirziyoev has publicly criticized government agencies and has taken steps to dismiss or remove many officials in power during Karimov’s rule.

Weeks before Qodirov’s arrest, Mirziyoev removed the long-serving head of the country’s powerful SNB security service, Rustam Inoyatov.

Sergey Kwan