One more person, suspected of being involved in the abduction and murder of the first deputy head of Orienbank Shuhrat Ismatulloyev, has been detained in Turkiye and extradited to Tajikistan, the press center of the Prosecutor-General’s Office of Tajikistan reported.

The press center, in particular, says “Bakhtovar Safarov (born on December 5, 1995), who had previously convicted of drug trafficking, left Tajikistan on June 24, the day after the crime and hid in Turkiye.”  

To-date, the leader and 15 members of an organized crime group in the case of the Orienbank first deputy head’s abduction have been identified and 13 of them have already been detained and taken into custody, the press center of the Prosecutor-General’s Office of Tajikistan says.  

Operational and investigative measures to identify and hold accountable other members of this organized criminal group are reportedly under way.

Tajik prosecutors say they are continuing to search for the body of Shuhrat Ismatulloyev, who -- according to officials -- was kidnapped and killed by a group of gangsters and former law enforcement officers in late June.

Recall, Shuhrat Ismatulloyev, 49, the first deputy director of Orienbank, went missing in the evening of June 23 near his home in Dushanbe.

Tajik authorities said the banker was forced by four men into a car with tinted windows and driven away at around 8 p.m. local time on June 23.

The Interior Ministry offered a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the kidnappers.  The ministry also issued what it described were images of the car taken by security cameras.

On June 30, it was noted that Rustam Ashourov, 43, alleged suspect in Ismatulloyev’s kidnapping, fatally shot two airport officials in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau.  He reportedly grabbed a gun from a guard who was escorting him and opened fire on Chisinau International Airport security personnel after he was denied entry into Moldova after flying from Turkiye.  Ashourov died in hospital in Chisinau on July 3 from the injuries he sustained when security officers subdued him.

A week later, the Tajik Prosecutor-General’s Office claimed Ismatulloyev had been killed by his abductors several hours after he was kidnapped, though it did not offer proof.

It said in a July 7 statement that Ismatulloyev was taken to a house in the village of Shodob, outside Dushanbe, where he was beaten, tortured, and subsequently killed by his kidnappers.  The banker’s body and the car were thrown into the Zarafshon River, it added.

The crime was allegedly plotted by a 40-year-old Dilshod Saidmurodov, who set up a 10-man “armed criminal group” to carry it out.   

Sources close to the investigation told Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service that Saidmurodov had previously worked in law enforcement agencies.

Meanwhile, mobile phone footage appeared on social media that purportedly shows a final phone call between Rustam Ashourov and his mother.  According to his account on the video, the men kidnapped Ismatulloyev not to kill him but to force him to hand over some “US$200 million” in bitcoins that the banker allegedly owned.

But Saidmurodov “beat him so much that he died,” the man said, adding that he then helped to throw the banker’s body into the river.

Tajikistan authorities say they are still looking for the banker’s body.