Source Pravda.Ru

Lawyers ask for reduced sentences in Uzbek uprising trial as defendants repented

The judges in the trial of 15 men accused of organizing a May uprising in eastern Uzbekistan retreated for final deliberations Thursday, after the defendants repented and said they deserved a death penalty in a carefully orchestrated trial.

The judges did not say when they would deliver their verdict, but Supreme Court spokesman Aziz Obidov said a date for the next court session would be announced next week.

Prosecutors accused the defendants Wednesday of being Islamic extremists who sought to overthrow the government and carve out an Islamic state during the May 13 uprising in the city of Andijan. The prosecutors asked the court to give the men sentences ranging from 15 to 20 years.

Defenders asked Thursday that their clients be given milder sentences because they had admitted their guilt.

"Since my client honestly repented and asked for the president's pardon, I'm asking the court to soften the sentence," said Mehri Ergasheva, a lawyer for Gulom Nodirov, whom prosecutors asked be sentenced to 19 years in prison.

Gulmira Babadzhanova, defending Tavakkal Khadzhiyev, said her client was only following orders from the uprising's leader. Prosecutors urged a 20-year sentence for Khadzhiyev, which his lawyer said should be reduced because his involvement in the killings and weapons smuggling had not been proven.

Uzbekistan's authoritarian government hopes the trial which began more than a month ago will refute accusations by rights groups and others that government troops fired on peaceful, unarmed protesters and killed hundreds. Officials contend that the uprising was encouraged by extremist Islamic groups from abroad, and that 187 people died.

Rights groups have dismissed the tightly controlled trial as a show, reports the AP.

P.T.

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