DUSHANBE, December 8, 2011, Asia-Plus – The appeals commission of the Sughd regional court has considered appeal filed by Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov, a reporter with the independent weekly Nouri Zindagi , against the verdict passed on him by the Tobashar city court and ruled that the journalist be freed from paying a fine of 35,000 somoni, Ismoilov’s defense lawyer Muhabbat Jouryaeva said in an interview with Asia-Plus.

According to her, the appeals commission of the Sughd regional court also overturned the Taboshar court’s ruling banning the journalist from practicing journalism for three years.

“Such a decision has been made in accordance with an amnesty, while the verdict itself remains without changes,” the lawyer noted.

We will recall that the Taboshar city court on October 14 declared Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov guilty on separate counts of extortion, insult, and incitement to regional hostility through mass media, and ordered him to pay 35,000 somoni in damages to the government officials he allegedly insulted.  The court also banned the journalist from practicing journalism for three years.  He was released from custody.

Ismoilov appealed the court''s decision.

Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov was arrested last November on separate counts of defamation, insult, and incitement to hatred over an article titled, “Asht Is Being Destroyed.  Who Is Responsible for It?”  In the article, published in the August 2010 issue of Nouri Zindagi , Ismoilov criticized government and law enforcement officials in the Asht district in the northern Sughd province of Tajikistan, and cited corruption, abuse of office, and mismanagement of funds.

At a hearing on September 29, prosecutors asked the court to convict Ismoilov and sentence him to 16 years in jail.