KHUJAND, October 29, 2013 Asia-Plus -- A court in the Asht district, Sughd province sentenced former journalist Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov to 11 years in prison on October 28.

The sentence followed his conviction on charges of extortion and fraud.  The court ruled that Ismoilov will serve his term in a high-security penal colonel.

He is also barred from journalistic work for three years after release from prison.  Ismoilov should also pay 5,000 somoni to cover damage caused to the victims.    

The court''s ruling was nearly identical to the prosecution''s earlier demand for a 14-year prison term.

The trial of Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov, presided over by Dilovar Safarov, a judge at a court in the Mastchoh district, began in the Asht district court on October 23.

Former regional reporter for the Dushanbe-based independent weekly Nouri Zindagi (Light of Life) in Sughd province, Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov, who had worked as distributor of the Dushanbe-based weekly Nigoh (View) in the northern Sughd province over the past two years, was detained by local police on June 24 this year following an application by two local women.

The Tajik Interior Ministry announced on June 26 that Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov is accused of demanding bribes from two residents of the northern province of Sughd.

It is not the first time police have detained Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov.  We will recall that Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov was arrested in November 2010 on separate counts of defamation, insult, and incitement to hatred over an article titled, “Asht Is Being Destroyed. Who Is Responsible for It?”  In the article, published in the August 2010 issue of Nouri Zindagi , Ismoilov criticized government and law enforcement officials in the Asht district in the northern Sughd province of Tajikistan, and cited corruption, abuse of office, and mismanagement of funds.

Ismoilov who was facing 16 years imprisonment on charges related to his professional activities was released on October 14, 2011.  The Khujand court, however, barred Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov from journalistic work for three years, and ordered him to pay a fine in the amount of 35,000 somoni for causing moral damages.