17 december 2017

Central Asia news

Greece refuses handover of Tajik political activist

01.12.2017 00:43 msk

Fergananews


Mirzorakhim Kuzov in the courtroom in Athens
Greece has refused to extradite Mirzorakhim Kuzov (Shokhnaimi Karim), a member of the Political Council of the Islamic Revival Party (PIVT), banned in Tajikistan.

On 29 November, the court in Athens has taken such a decision questioning the red notice of Interpol backed by the Tajikistan law enforcement authorities, Steve Swerdlow, the researcher on Central Asia of the Human Rights Watch (HRW), says in his Twitter.

The court's decision notes that the case of Mirzorakhim Kuzov has a political motivation. The court ruled to release the Tajik opposition activist from custody. The hearing was attended by the leaders of the Islamic party, including Muhiddin Kabiri, Ozodi Radio (the Tajik service of Radio Liberty) reports citing the PIVT spokesman Mahmudjon Faizrakhmonov.

"This is the first trial in the extradition case of PIVT members at the request of Interpol, and the court rejected this request. So far no state has extradited PIVT members at the request of the authorities of Tajikistan or Interpol, although earlier some representatives of the Government of Tajikistan announced the detention and extradition of six PIVT members, which is not true," the PIVT Political Council said in its statement on the occasion of Kuzov's release.

Earlier, Abdugaffor Azizov, the head of the national bureau of Interpol in Tajikistan, said that six active PIVT members had already been extradited to Tajikistan from the countries of Europe.

The Greek authorities detained Mirzorakhim Kuzov (Shokhnaimi Karim), a member of PIVT, banned in Tajikistan, in the capital of Greece. They stopped him during passport control at the international airport of Athens at the request of Interpol, Ozodi Radio (the Tajik service of Radio Liberty) reported, citing the PIVT spokesman Mahmudjon Faizrakhmonov.

Immediately after the detention of Kuzov, the PIVT leadership sent an official letter to the Greek authorities stating that the criminal proceedings against the opposition activist in Tajikistan are politically motivated. The HRW also called on Greece not to extradite Kuzov to Tajikistan, where he could be subjected to torture and inhuman treatment.

Until September 2015, PIVT had been the only officially functioning religious party in the post-Soviet space for 16 years. In August 2015, the Ministry of Justice of Tajikistan demanded PIVT to cease its activities.

And in September, the republic authorities accused the PIVT leadership of involvement in the military mutiny by the former deputy minister of defence of the country Abdukhalim Nazarzoda.

The Supreme Court declared the party a terrorist organisation arresting its leadership. In June 2016, the court sentenced 14 members of the PIVT political council to various terms of imprisonment, two of them to life.

According to the PIVT spokesman, Shokhnaimi Karim left Tajikistan long before the rebellion of General Nazarzoda. In recent years, he lived in Turkey and Iran, and his family is still in Tajikistan.

Mahmudjon Faizrakhmonov said that Shokhnaimi Karim was a member of the PIVT delegation, which participated in the annual OSCE / ODIHR Human Dimension Meeting in Warsaw. Previously, he headed the department of international relations in the executive committee of the party.

On 11 October, the PIVT leadership sent an official letter to the Greek authorities stating that the case brought against Shokhnaimi Karim in Tajikistan is politically motivated.

Tajikistan also announced the international search for other PIVT activists, including the party leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who left the republic right after the parliamentary elections on 1 March 2015 - six months before the "rebellious" events of September. Later he said that he did it fearing that he would face a criminal case fabricated against him at home.

In September 2016, the Interpol website listed the name of Kabiri among wanted. Nevertheless, the leader of the PIVT announced his intention to continue the activities of the party in exile. Kabiri rejects all charges against PIVT believing that the September insurgency was the reason for the ban on the activities of the Islamic party.

Fergana News Agency