Uzbekistan rejects allegations of torture against former chief prosecutor

TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbek authorities have rejected Amnesty International’s allegations that former Prosecutor-General Rashidjon Qodirov, who is on trial on corruption charges, is at risk of being subjected to torture, RFE/RL reports.

In a statement on April 11, the Prosecutor-General’s Office said that medical examinations conducted in the course of the investigations had concluded that “Qodirov’s health status allows him to stay incarcerated and no bodily injuries have been discovered.”

The 67-year-old Qodirov’s trial has been held behind closed doors in Tashkent since early January.

He is accused of “bribe-taking, extortion, abuse of office, and other crimes,” the Prosecutor-General’s Office said.

On April 8, Amnesty International urged Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev to ensure that Qodirov and his 12 co-defendants were “protected from torture and other ill-treatment and that they have prompt access to necessary and adequate medical care.”

The London-based human rights watchdog quoted “credible reports” as saying that Qodirov had been subjected to “physical abuse, mock executions, sleep deprivation and other ill-treatment” during his detention.

In its statement, the Prosecutor-General’s Office said that “taking into account the age of Qodirov and the other defendants, necessary medical monitoring of their health state has been provided.”

It said that Qodirov was also “provided with the right to have legal defense” immediately after his arrest.

The former top prosecutor partially confessed his guilt and stated in court that he had not been pressured to give confessions, the statement added.

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 shortened to five years.

Uzbekistan became isolated and economically stagnant under Karimov, who ruled the country with a tight grip 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

TCA