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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 17:49 GMT
More Andijan accused go on trial
By Ian MacWilliam
BBC News, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Mass protest in Andijan, May 2005
Massive protests followed a jailbreak in Andijan in May this year
A number of trials have begun in Uzbekistan of people connected with an outbreak of violence in the eastern town of Andijan last May.

A widely-publicised Supreme Court trial earlier this month saw 15 men accused of masterminding the violence receive jail terms of up to 20 years.

The new trials are taking place in near-secrecy, with no media present.

The earlier trial of the 15 alleged organisers was widely condemned as a show trial and a travesty of justice.

Human rights groups in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, say at least three trials are currently under way in small towns in the Tashkent region.

In one town, a representative of the New York-based organisation, Human Rights Watch, saw about 15 defendants in handcuffs being led into court, but she herself was prevented from attending.

Kazakh arrests

All three trials involve defendants connected to the events in Andijan six months ago, when a massive anti-government protest broke out following a jailbreak.

Witnesses say that Uzbek troops fired into the crowd, killing hundreds of people.

The Uzbek government said the incident was an attempt to start an Islamic revolution, but the UN and western governments question that interpretation.

The State Prosecutors' Office said earlier that about 100 more people were being investigated in connection with Andijan.

The Uzbek authorities are continuing in their efforts to round up Uzbek citizens they suspect of religious extremism who have escaped neighbouring republics.

A Russian human rights group, Memorial, says that nine Uzbeks were arrested during the past week in southern Kazakhstan across the border from Tashkent.

A spokesman for the Kazakh secret police said they had arrested some people, but refused to give further details.

In addition, the Russian authorities recently arrested two Uzbek citizens in Siberia at Tashkent's request.

Twelve others arrested earlier near Moscow are awaiting possible extradition.

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