Trial of Uzbek opposition leader trial adjourned after brief session

[JURIST] The trial of opposition leader and businessman Sanjar Umarov [party profile] opened and promptly adjourned Monday in Tashkent after defense lawyers requested more time to prepare their case. , a leader of the opposition Sunshine Uzbekistan Coalition [party website], was arrested in October [JURIST report] on charges that include embezzlement, tax fraud, and bribery. The Bush administration and international human rights organizations have criticized the arrest [JURIST report] as being politically motivated. The coalition gained prominence during the Andijan uprising [JURIST archive] in May 2005, which has prompted President Islam Karimov [BBC profile] to take increasingly repressive steps against opposition groups. The Uzbek Prosecutor-General's office has insisted that the trial has "nothing to do with politics" and that Umarov is on trial for "purely economic crimes." Proceedings will recommence on February 3. Meanwhile, two other Sunshine Uzbekistan Coalition activists, Nodira Khidoyatova and Mutabar Tojiboeva [RFE/RL reports], are also currently on trial. Radio Free Europe has more.

 

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