Tursunzoda police have attempted to pass murder off as suicide. 

In early February, two teenagers raped the 16-year-old girl M.I. before stabbing her to death and setting her body alight.

The tragedy took place in Tursunzoda, some 60 kilometers west of Dushanbe, on February 3.

Initially, Tursunzoda police said that the girl had committed suicide by self-immolation, though there were multiple stab wound son her body…  

A week later, prosecutors launched an investigation into the case following an application by the victim’s family.  

According to the victim’s relatives, police summoned her father and said that the girl could commit suicide following domestic violence.  She alleged poured gasoline on herself and set fire to herself.

The family took the case to the Prosecutor-General's Office, prompting a criminal probe that began with the exhumation of her body.

According to prosecutors, forensics concluded that the girl had been raped and stabbed 14 times before her body was burned.

The records of the victim's mobile phone reportedly led to the arrest of the two suspects.

The 16-year-old M.I. was allegedly lured out of her grandparent's house in the village of Seshanbe.

“She received a phone call from her classmates at around midnight,” the victim's grandparents told RFE/RL's Tajik Service on February 17.  “The classmates asked her to come out just for a brief moment because they wanted to ask her something.  Only five minutes after she left, we got worried and went out to look for her.  But she wasn't outside.”

The family says they looked for the girl all night before notifying police. Her burned body was reportedly found two days later, dumped in a remote field in the Joura Rahmonov jamoat 9 kilometers away.

Prosecutors say they are investigating possible negligence in the handling of the case by regional police, including a lack of proper forensics.  However, no one has yet been charged.

The rate of juvenile crimes evokes serious concern in Tajik society.  In a speech made on February 15, President Emomali Rahmon noted that young people and teenagers were responsible for some 75 percent of the 3,000 hooliganism crimes recorded in the Tajik capital in the past 10 years.

Tajikistan has adopted a so-called parental responsibility law that holds parents liable for crimes committed by their underage children.

The rise in crimes committed by Tajik youth has been widely blamed on widespread unemployment and poverty in the country.