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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 March 2006, 16:00 GMT
Uzbek defendants detail 'torture'
By Ian MacWilliam
BBC News, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Uzbek soldier
Uzbek security forces have been accused of brutality before
Eight young men in Uzbekistan have given details in court of methods of torture they say investigators used to try to force them to confess.

The accounts were unusually detailed, a representative of Human Rights Watch attending the trial in Tashkent, said.

Human rights groups, including the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, have accused Uzbekistan repeatedly of the use of torture.

The government has in the past denied using illegal methods of interrogation.

The eight men in their early 20s, most with young families, are small market traders from the provincial town of Yangiyul.

All were detained on minor charges unrelated to religion, but were subsequently accused of being Muslim extremists.

All deny the charges.

Truncheons

The only evidence of extremism so far presented in court is that they sometimes prayed together in the market.

Five of the men, who have been held in detention for the past three months, said that investigators told them to remove their clothes and then beat them severely on the head, neck and back with truncheons.

One man was made to lie on the floor and was jumped on, he said.

Another said his interrogators threatened to sodomise him with a truncheon.

One defendant was so severely beaten he could not walk.

Others were made to watch or listen while their companions were beaten, the court heard.

The last defendant collapsed in court while giving his statement.

The judge, Hairuddin Shermukhamedov, asked the men why they did not tell their lawyers.

They replied that they were afraid of further beatings if they did.

These accounts are consistent with the documented testimony of many hundreds of people who have been arrested in Uzbekistan.

The BBC was unable to contact officials of the justice ministry or the court for comment.

The trial is due to continue.




SEE ALSO:
Uzbekistan jails opposition chief
06 Mar 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Uzbekistan
07 Mar 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Uzbekistan
07 Mar 06 |  Country profiles


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