DUSHANBE, May 10, 2013, Asia-Plus  -- Two participants of last year’s clash in Khorog, the capital of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO)have got long jail terms.

On Friday May 10, the Supreme Court sentenced two participants of the last year’s clash in Khorog – Dimon Ashourov and Sherik Karamkhudoyev – to 12 and 14 years in prison respectively.

The sentence followed their conviction on charges of illegal possessing weapons, organizing a criminal grouping, and using violence against a representative of authorities.  Besides, Dimon Ashourov was also found guilty of fraud, document forgery and escape from custody, while Sherik Karamkhudoyev was also found guilty of participating in mass disorders.

The court’s ruling was nearly identical to the prosecutor’s earlier demand.  On April 30, a prosecutor in the trial of Dimon Ashourov and Sherik Karamkhudoyev asked the Supreme Court to sentence Sherik Karamkhudoyev and Dimon Ashourov to 15 and 13 years in prison respectively.

The defendants’ lawyers knew about the sentence from their clients’ relatives because they were not notified of a May 10 session.

The trial of Dimon Ashourov and Sherik Karamkhudoyev began in the Supreme Court on April 8.  Since this case is classified as “secret”, the trial is being held behind closed doors.

Defendants’ lawyers say investigators have only the defendants’ confessions but the defendants say the confessions were wrested from them under physical and moral pressure.  According to the lawyers, there are no any other proofs to support charges brought against the defendants

Sherik Karamkhudoyev is the head of the Islamic Revival Party (IRP)’s organization in Khorog and IRP reported Sherik Karamkhudoyev as missing on July 24, 2012, when government forces launched a massive military operation in Khorog against what it called “militants” following the murder of the regional security chief on July 21, 2012.

Two weeks after his disappearance, Karamkhudoyev was revealed to be held in the detention facility of the State Committee for National Security (SCNS) in Dushanbe. 

Tajik law enforcement authorities claim that Karamkhudoyev allegedly collaborated with Imomnazar Imomnazarov, who was murdered by unknown assailants in his home in Khorog on August 22.

We will recall that two residents of Khorog – Oqil Ayombekov and Hamza Murodov – got long jail terms in February this year for killing regional security chief Abdullo Nazarov.  On February 28, the Khorog court sentenced Oqil Ayombekov and Hamza Murodov to 17 and 16 years in prison respectively.  The sentence followed their conviction on charges of murder (Article 104 (2) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code), weapon embezzlement (Article 194 (4), and use of violence against a representative of authorities (Article 328 (2).  The sessions were held behind closed doors.

The clashes began in Khorog on July 24, 2012 when government forces launched a military operation against what it called “militants” following the murder of the regional security chief Abdullo Nazarov, who was stabbed to death on July 21, 2012.  The operation lasted for several weeks.

The authorities blamed Tolib Ayombekov, a former warlord from the civil war who had been deputy chief of border unit in the Ishkashim district until recently, for the murder of the regional security chief Abdullo Nazarov.  Hundreds of troops have reportedly poured into Khorog to hunt down Ayombekov.  Authorities also accused Ayombekov of drug-trading and smuggling tobacco and precious stones.

Tolib Ayombekov denied the accusations and said the government used Nazarov''s death as a pretext for cementing its grip over Gorno Badakhshan.

Oqil Ayombekov, who is the brother of Tolib Ayombekov, and Hamza Murodov surrendered to the authorities in late July.

Tolib Ayombekov himself surrendered to the authorities on August 12.

Another former filed commander of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) in Gorno Badakhshan, Imomnazar Imomnazarov, was murdered by unknown assailants in his home in Khorog on August 22.