the Disillusioned kid: Trials and Tribulations, Part 3.
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Monday, November 14, 2005

Trials and Tribulations, Part 3.

What's the point of a show trial if everybody gets bored and loses interest half way through? I follow events in Uzbekistan fairly closely and even I had almost forgotten about the trial of the 15 men alleged to have instigated the uprising in Andijan (you remember that trial). Nosemonkey, however, was kind enough to point out that the kangaroo seems to have reached its destination and the fat lady's telling us they're guilty. (OK, the turn of phrase is mine, but credit for the heads up and the report goes to the recently married primate.)

A guilty verdict in the trial was inevitable from the beginning. The prosecution trotted out an array of witnesses who recited the government's account. Among those providing evidence in support of the official line were troops who testified that they had offered protesters a safe corridor and even those described by the BBC as "victims of the unrest." The sole exception was Mahbuba Zokirova (or Makhbuba Zakirova depending on how you transliterate her name), a 33-year old housewife, who recounted having seen "soldiers shooting at people with a white flag." She opined, "Even Hitler did not do it that way. It was the military who opened fire." Although the state-controlled media tried to discredit her and it's clear from her testimony that she's bricking it, Zokirova insists that she has not been hassled by the authorities following her comments at the trial. It is to be hoped this continues once the trial falls off the radar.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, prosecutors got what they wanted, securing 16-20 year sentences for the 12 Uzbek citizens on trial and 14 years for each of the three Kyrgyz citizens. The verdict was as long-winded as the trial itself, lasting for five hours according to RFE/RL. The defendants continue their not at all suspicious assertion of their own guilt saying they "deserve to be killed twice" for the actions. Actually the decision not to use the death penalty in this case is something of a surprise. Karimov recently announced the end of capital punishment in Uzbekistan, but insisted that this could not be implemented until January 2008. Many cynics, myself included, assumed that one of the reasons for this delay was an intention to execute those accused of responsibility for the Andiajn uprising.

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