Friday, April 20, 2007

More News on Umida's Trial





Thursday, 19 April 2007 – The first hearing into the case of human rights activist and journalist Umida Niyazova scheduled for today did not take place, and a new date of the hearing is shrouded in secrecy.

The hearing was expected to be held in Tashkent’s Sergeli District court for criminal cases. It was not possible to establish why precisely Sergeli District, namely the Sputnik residential area, which is miles from nowhere, had been chosen to host the trial. Lawyers said that the matter was in the location of Tashkent airport where Niyazova was first detained: they say it is located in Sergeli District, although it seems to be in the capital’s Yakkasaray District.

Anyway, even if the trail had to be held somewhere in Chirchik, many human rights activists and independent journalists would have gone there because it is their colleague who is being tried.

Everything was going ahead as usual. The trial was scheduled for 1100, and by 1000 a few relatives of Niyazova, human rights activists and journalists started to gather at the entrance of a one-story squat building which rather looks like a barrack. As usual, national security officers zealously took pictures of everyone gathered and police officers guarding the building with no less zeal recorded the passport details of everyone who wished to attend the trial.

In general, everyone had to wait patiently: by the way, waiting has become part of such trials but it was not a success. Human rights activist Surat Ikramov suggested that the hearing might be adjourned, and he was right – an armoured vehicle drove Niyazova away at 1125. Lawyers said that the trail had been adjourned indefinitely.

Independent sources have said that new unfavourable facts have been established in Niyazova’s case and it has been sent for additional investigation. Russia’s RTR TV channel broadcast a documentary on “colour revolutions” last Sunday. As is known, the Uzbek intelligence officers have found all the compromising materials in Niyazova’s laptop, which has become the main piece of evidence in her case.

The matter is that after the channel showed the documentary about “colour revolutions” in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and their heroes, the information about these heroes was found on Niyazova’s laptop. Investigators need some time to put forward their new charges. That is why it is not clear when the trial will start.

Meanwhile, Niyazova’s relatives have not given up their hopes for the favourable outcome of this trial. “I am ready for the worst, but hope for the best,” Umida’s sister Shafoat said. “With charges under three articles it is unrealistic to hope for pardoning, but I hope that the trial will take into account that her old parents and her very young child depend on her. I hope for our justice system’s mercy and that she will get a suspended sentence.”

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