KHUJAND, December 26, 2011, Asia-Plus  --  The Sughd regional court has sentenced 53 people to jail – including five life sentences – for last year’s suicide bombing in Khujand and membership in the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

Firdavs Karimov, Sohibjon Sobitov, Ismatullo Boboyev, Zafar Karimov and Akmal Hoshimov were sentenced to life imprisonment on December 23 by the Sughd regional court.  Forty-eight other defendants received sentences ranging from eight to 30 years.

The trial for these 53 people began on July 12, 2011 and it was held behind closed at pretrial detention facility # 2 in Khujand.

According to Mr. Justice Dadojon Gadoyboyev, who presided over the trial, the defendants are mainly residents of Isfara, Istaravshan and Spitamen districts and the city of Khujand.  They faced charges of terrorism, organization of criminal group, the violent seizure of power or the violent retention of power, document forgery, illegally bearing, possessing, acquiring, and manufacturing weapons, preparation for crime or criminal attempt, murder, complicity in committing a crime, misuse of power, not reporting a crime to police or covering a crime, and illegal border crossing.

Gadoyboyev noted that 10-12 of those defendants had stood the trial as accomplices to the last year’s suicide car bombing, while the others stood the trial for membership in the IMU.

Some local experts say the verdict was announced without presence of defense lawyers that contradicts rules of procedures.

We will recall that on September 3, 2010, a suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into the main gate of the Sughd regional organized crime control division in Khujand, killing himself and three others and injuring 31 people.  The vehicle was driven at high speed into the gated compound of the organized crime control division -- as the gate was closing after two police cars entered the complex -- and the car exploded.  It was the first-ever such suicide bombing reported in Tajikistan.

Tajik law enforcement authorities blamed the attack on elements with ties to the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), whose leadership purportedly has links to Al-Qaeda.

The State Committee for National Security (SCNS)’s office in Sughd province announced on October 5, 2010 that the suicide bomb attack was carried out by Akmal Karimov, whom it identified as a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).