Uzbekistan
24.04.06
Urgent Interventions

Uzbekistan: Release of Mr. Ruslan Rakhimhov

Case UZB 100904.2 - Follow up to cases UZB 100904 and UZB 100904.1

Release

Geneva, 24 April 2006

The International Secretariat of OMCT has received new information regarding the following situation in Uzbekistan.

New Information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by a reliable source of the release on amnesty of Mr. Ruslan Rakhimhov at the end of December 2005.

According to the information received, Mr. Rakhimhov was charged in 2004 for murder under article 97 of the Criminal Code based on a confession extracted from him under torture. Later this accusation was substituted by article 104 III, ‘bringing physical injuries that resulted in death’. Under this article he was given the minimal sentence of eight years. At the end of December 2005 he was released on amnesty, allegedly because of the national and international pressure on his case. Currently no charges are held against him.

Brief reminder of the situation

According to the information received, Mr. Ruslan Rakhimhov, a 23 years-old electrician, was arrested in the night of 29 to 30 January 2004, together with at least 17 other people. They were handed over to the Yunus Abad RUVD (regional department of the interior) of Tashkent city, where they were kept for 2 ½ days. The detainees were under investigation for the murder of Mr. Yakshigulov Ildar Nailevich.

Police officers, one of which is identified as Mr. Ruzmatov Ravshan Djuraevich, reportedly tortured him during interogation. From 29 to 31 January 2004, Mr. Rakhimhov, along with another person, Mrs. Gaynulina arrested for the same reason, was allegedly beaten and officers put a gas mask on him, while blocking the access of air. These allegations of ill-treatment were reportedly corroborated during a hearing before the criminal court of Yunus Abad district of Tashkent city (court of first instance which considered this case between March and May 2004) by the testimonies of the victims themselves and of two witnesses, Mrs. Gauss and Mr. Ochilov. These two witnesses had allegedly heard the victims shout for help from the room next door.

Unable to bear the acts of torture he was subjected to, Mr. Rakhimhov signed a document stating that he had a quarrel with Mr. Yakshigulov Ildar Nailevich in the night of the 28 to 29 January 2004. Furthermore, the statement declared that following the quarrel, he, Mrs. Gaynulina and Mrs. Smirnova took Mr. Yakshigulov out of his flat, struck him two or three times in his face and left. Mrs. Gaynulina and Mrs. Smirnova were also pressured into signing statements declaring that after a fight between Mrs. Smirnova and Mr. Yakshigulov, Mr. Rakhimhov took the latter away and returned half an hour later saying he had taken Mr. Akshigulov home by taxi.

Except for Mr. Rakhimhov, all detainees were released after 2 ½ days of detention. Mrs. Gaynulina, who was among those released, was awaiting trial on charges of “failure to report” and for covering Mr. Rakhimhov who was himself charged with murder.

During the hearings, which took place between March and May 2004 before the court of first instance, Mr. Rakhimhov and Mrs. Gaynulina rejected their statements, saying that they were forced into signing them under torture. According to the information received, the only sort of evidence provided in this criminal case, are the statements by Mr. Rakhimhov, Mrs. Gaynulina and Mrs. Smirnova given under torture.

On 7 April 2004, the defense lawyers reportedly filed a complaint against the police officers suspected of acts of torture on the detainees. However, the petition had reportedly been refused on the grounds that it was premature. Mr. Rakhimhov was sentenced to five years in prison under article 97 of the Criminal Code, for murder without aggravated circumstances.

Remarks

OMCT wishes to thank all of the individuals and organizations that have taking action as a response to the urgent appeal and have written to the Uzbek authorities on behalf of Mr. Ruslan Rakhimhov. No further action is currently required on your part concerning this case.

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Geneva, 24 April 2006
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