Trial to open today in deaths during uprising in Uzbek city


World Digest

September 20, 2005|By David Holley

MOSCOW -- The first trial of suspects accused in a May uprising in the eastern Uzbekistan city of Andijon was set to begin today amid controversy over how many died in the turmoil and whether the government was responsible for hundreds of deaths.

Uzbekistan First Deputy Prosecutor General Anvar Nabiyev named 15 defendants last week. The charges include murder, hostage-taking, terrorism, attempted overthrow of the government, prison escape and membership in banned extremist organizations, Nabiyev said in comments reported by the Russian news agency Itar-Tass.

An additional 106 people were arrested in the case, but 50 of them "repented" and were released on parole, Nabiyev said.

New York-based Human Rights Watch, in a report released yesterday, accused Uzbek authorities of conducting a vast crackdown aimed at concealing the truth of the violence. Detained suspects are being forced to give false testimony confirming the government's version of events, the report says.

The Uzbek government has placed the death toll in the uprising at 187, including 94 alleged militants, about 35 police and soldiers, and nearly 60 civilian protesters. It has claimed that all the civilians were killed by militants, not government forces.

Human rights groups have estimated that from 300 to 700 died.

David Holley is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times

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