In Tashkent, a Regional Court sentenced 19 Muslims on 27 May to six years in prison for violating the Criminal Code. Renowned journalist Hairulla Hamidov along with Abdukarim Inamutdinov, Orol Tugaymurotov and Bahodyr Batyrov were given six years in a labour camp.
"The case was fabricated," human rights defender Surat Ikramov said. The trial was in "flagrant violation" of the Criminal Code. Ikramov complained that the defendants were subjected to physical and psychological torture by police during the pre-trial investigation.
"The court did not prove the guilt of the defendants,” he said, “and none of the defendants pleaded guilty of the charges brought against them."
Lawyers in the case have said that the defendants will appeal against the court decision, even if they could get a harsher sentence. The lawyers also risk losing their licence to practice, a threat that is typically made against them when human rights cases go to court.
On 31 May, Judge Sherali Komilov convicted ten Muslims for distributing “materials threatening public security and public order” and creating, leading or participating “in religious extremist, separatist or fundamentalist or other banned organisations”. Sentences varied between five and six years.
As in others, the prosecution in this case failed to prove the defendants’ guilt; however, according to Ikramov, their guilt consisted of being Muslim and praying regularly.
Three members of Tashkent's Protestant Church of Christ, Artur Avanesyan, Vyacheslav Dechkov and Bahodyr Adambaev, were also sent to prison. All three were placed under a 15-day administrative arrest.
Two other members of the Church were instead placed under house arrest after they were followed by police and threatened by law enforcement and newspapers.
The state’s Religious Affairs Committee threatened to strip the registered church of its legal status and prevent church members from holding their services if they continue to complain about arrests and incarcerations.