11/16/2010, 00.00
TURKMENISTAN
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Appeal denied for Ilmurad Nurliev, Pentecostal pastor convicted by false evidence

Sentenced to four years for fraud, in a closed door trial, access denied to diplomats, his wife complains that the witnesses testimony was false. Fears he will be sent to a labour camp that forcibly administers psychotropic substances for Christian prisoners. Now his last hope is international mobilization.

Ashgabat (AsiaNews/F18) - A sentence of 4 years in jail on false evidence for pastor Ilmurad Nurliev, in a court sentence that has been “hidden” to prevent an appeal.  Fears are mounting that he will be sent to a labour camp known for its use of psychotropic substances on inmates. His wife Maya Nurlieva launches an appeal to denounce the persecution

The woman told Forum 18 that the court refused to give her a copy of the ruling issued on October 21, needed for an appeal to be lodged within 10 days, saying it would only be given to her husband, by court order of Judge Agajan Akjaev . Not even his lawyer has been given access to the written sentence.

Thus it has not been possible to appeal against the sentence to four years in prison for aggravated fraud, a charged based solely on very dubious testimonies of people who say they entrusted money to him. One of the witnesses, Aybolek Akmuradovna Gurbanov claimed to have given Nurliev money on January 1, 2010, but F18 found that on that date he was in prison on a previous conviction.

The trial was held behind closed doors, not even a single representative of the U.S. Embassy was allowed to attend.

Nurliev Light to the World Pentecostal Church, which the state has repeatedly refused to register. In the country unregistered religious groups can not hold activities, or even meet to pray.

The pastor is in jail since Aug. 27. The ruling also ordered that he be submitted to "forced medical treatment" like that of a drug addict, despite medical tests performed on October 5 showing that he does not need it. The fear is that he and Jehovah's Witness Ahmet Hudaybergenov, also convicted, will be sent to Seydi labour camp, where there is evidence of torture against Baptist Christians and Jehovah's Witnesses prisoners with psychotropic drugs.

A letter dated October 21, 2010 from Doctor G. Gurtykov of Mary District Hospital says that Nurliev is registered as a blood donor, who are subjected to analysis and are not accepted if drug addicts.

The ruling also ordered the man to pay over 1,300 manat fine, equal to about two months of his salary. His wife was forced to immediately pay the sum.

Human rights activist Natalya Shabunts in an article published on November 2 in the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, has called Nurliev’s arrest and conviction "illegal". The article praises the members of the Church because none of them have betrayed the pastor on false charges, despite the pressure received from police. "I hope - she says - to attract the attention of international organizations towards the arbitrary justice, for which anyone can be convicted on false charges".

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