Eleven would-be assassins of the Turkmenbashi amnestied
President of Turkmenistan Gurbankuly Berdymuhammedov signed a decree amnestying eleven prisoners at the enlarged meeting of the Cabinet on August 9. One of the prisoners to be released is Nasrullah ibn Ibadullah, ex-mufti of Turkmenistan tried and sentenced for attempt on the life of the late President Saparmurat Niyazov in 2002.
Judging by the decree, soon to be ex-prisoners owe the amnesty to "numerous appeals from citizens of Turkmenistan to the State Commission for investigation into actions of law enforcement agencies" under the former president and to prisoners' own "sincere repentance". Moreover, the amnesty is supposed to "facilitate unity and consolidation of Turkmen society, harmony and prosperity of every family."
Ibn Ibadullah became the first mufti of Turkmenistan shortly before disintegration of the Soviet Union. He resigned as mufti and chairman of the Council for Religious Affairs of his own volition in January 2003.
The Azatlyk District Court of Ashkhabad met behind the closed doors on March 2, 2004 and sentenced ibn Ibadullah to 22 years imprisonment (first five years in a maximum security prison). The ex-mufti was charged with participation in the alleged attempt on the life of President Niyazov in November 2002. Experts believe that the charges against ibn Ibadullah were fabricated and that the ex-mufti was prosecuted for the independence streak. For example, ibn Ibadullah had loudly protested against the wide use of Rukhnama or Book of Spirit by Saparmurat Niyazov in mosques. Neither had ibn Ibadullah back and hail death sentences for the Turkmenbashi's alleged assassins when all other senior officials were clamoring for reintroduction of capital punishment. Some specialists in the meantime believe that ibn Ibadullah should actually blame his ethnic roots for what was done to him.
Berdymuhammedov signed the decree on Thursday morning, and all eleven prisoners were set free by noon. It should be noted here that the decree did not apply to other people imprisoned under the same charges - including former foreign minister Boris Shihmuradov.
Turkmen correspondent of Die Deutsche Welle reports in the meantime that Shihmuradov's confidant and associate Yklym Yklymov was released. Accompanied by families, ex-prisoners made speeches at the Interior Ministry thanking the new president, admitting that they had made a mistake, and so on. Die Deutsche Welle reports that fifteen were released but the complete list of names is not available at this point.