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Last Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005, 21:37 GMT 22:37 UK
EU bans arms sales to Uzbekistan
Defendants charged with terrorism sit in the supreme court of Uzbekistan in Tashkent, 20 September 2005
Fifteen people are standing trial for alleged involvement in the protests
The EU has approved an arms embargo on Uzbekistan after the violent suppression of anti-government protests in the city of Andijan in May.

It has also decided to deny visas to top Uzbek officials.

However, the bloc has yet to announce who exactly will be affected by the travel ban.

EU ministers meeting in Luxembourg said the sanctions were a consequence of Tashkent's refusal to allow an independent inquiry into the events.

The Uzbek government says fewer than 200 people died in what it describes as an Islamic uprising.

But international human rights organisations say security forces opened fire on protesters, most of them unarmed civilians, and that many more people died.

'Safe corridor'

Meanwhile the trial of those accused of being behind the protests is continuing in Tashkent.

On Monday two Uzbek soldiers gave testimony, saying they had orders only to shoot armed people but had difficulties because of the darkness, the Associated Press reported.

One of the men, Mohamed Yusupov, told the court the protesters had been offered a safe corridor out of the city centre but responded by killing the troops' commander and firing on hostages.

Human rights groups have described the trial as nothing more than an attempt to cover up a massacre.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch has been calling for an arms embargo and other sanctions since it began.

The EU's decision to impose sanctions was taken in response to what the ministers described as the "excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force" in Andijan.

The embargo will affect arms, military equipment and other equipment which might be used for internal repression.

Correspondents say it marks the first time the EU has suspended a partnership agreement with another country.




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