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Last Updated: Monday, 19 December 2005, 16:36 GMT
UN calls for prosecution of Uzbek
By Ian MacWilliam
BBC News, Almaty

Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on Torture for the United Nations
Mr Nowak said Mr Almatov should be prosecuted
A United Nations torture expert has called for Germany to prosecute an Uzbek official for his part in an alleged massacre.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, called on Friday for Germany to prosecute Uzbek Interior Minister Zokirjon Almatov.

He is thought to be receiving cancer treatment in Hanover.

The call comes after eight Uzbek citizens asked German federal prosecutors to open a case against him.

EU ban

The eight say Mr Almatov should face charges for individual torture and because of his role in the alleged massacre in Andijan.

Four of the group say they are torture victims and four say they are victims of the Andijan violence.

Uzbek troops in Andijan, Uzbekistan, May 2005
Troops are thought to have killed up to 500 people in Andijan

Mr Almatov was in command of the troops who eyewitnesses say fired indiscriminately into the crowds of protestors in May, killing possibly 500 people or more.

Mr Almatov is top of a list of 12 top Uzbek officials who are banned from entering the European Union because of their role in the Andijan killings.

But German officials said he was allowed to come for cancer treatment on humanitarian grounds.

Mr Almatov has been interior minister for the past 14 years overseeing law enforcement, the police, and prisons in Uzbekistan.

US protest

Three years ago the UN's previous special rapporteur concluded that torture was used systematically in Uzbekistan.

The interior ministry is one of the country's most hated and feared institutions. Human rights groups have documented numerous cases of torture and beatings of prisoners in its jails and pre-trial detention facilities.

Uzbekistan recently closed down an American military base on its territory following criticism of the Andijan killing.

It then banned European Nato nations from using its airspace for military flights except for Germany, which maintains a small contingent of troops in southern Uzbekistan near the Afghan border.

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