DUSHANBE, July 13, Asia-Plus -- Despite the fact that the Supreme Court’s sentence passed on Mahmadruzi Iskandarov, leader of Tajikistan’s Democratic Party (DPT) and former head of Tajik state gas concern, took an effect on January 18 2005 already, he is still being held in a Justice Ministry prison cell.

Pulod Alibakhshev, an official with the penal system department of the Justice Ministry, has told Asia-Plus that Iskandarov is still be held in the ministry-run prison cell because a part of his case concerning negligence and forgery charges had been remitted for further inquiry.   

We will recall that the DPT deputy chairman Jumaboy Niyozov on June 29 accused the Tajik authorities of trying to keep Iskandarov the party''s jailed leader isolated. Niyozov said the DPT leader has been denied the right to read newspapers or to see his relatives and attorneys.

Commenting on this statement, Pulod Alibakhshev noted that Mahmadruzi Iskandarov has not received newspapers over the past three week and had only a short meeting with his mother.  “On July 8, Mahmadruzi Iskandarov had a meeting with his defense lawyer Azam Badriddinov,” Mr. Alibakhshev said.  

“Annually, Mahmadruzi Iskandarov may have four short-term (from 15 to 30 minutes) and three long-term (up to two days) meetings with his relatives,” the Asia-Plus interlocutor said.   

Mahmadruzi Iskandarov, who was living in self-exile near Moscow, says he was abducted last year and brought back to Dushanbe to be tried.  Iskandarov was convicted on terrorism and corruption charges and sentenced to a 23-year prison term in October last year.