After Jailing Opposition Figure, Tajikistan Targets His Lawyer
Tajik authorities are apparently not satisfied jailing only their opponents, but wish to silence their opponents’ counsel, too.
Fakhriddin Zokirov, who represented former Industry Minister Zaid Saidov in a controversial corruption trial last year, was arrested March 8 on charges of forging documents to receive a million-dollar bank loan, an unnamed source at Tajikistan’s anti-corruption agency told Asia-Plus today.
Saidov, the former minister, was arrested last summer shortly after announcing he was forming a new political party with several leading technocrats. After a closed trial that Human Rights Watch called “politically motivated,” he was sentenced to 26 years for fraud, corruption, statutory rape and polygamy. The charges appeared to be as much about disgracing the charming reformist as locking him away. Saidov denied the charges.
After his arrest, several of Saidov’s supporters said they received death threats. The case epitomized a chilling in Tajikistan’s political atmosphere ahead of last year’s presidential elections, which incumbent President Imomali Rakhmon went on to win in a landslide and which independent monitors said lacked meaningful competition.
The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, a watchdog, says it is concerned that lawyer Zokirov’s arrest “may be related to his active and robust defense of the former minister in court.”
Two other lawyers who also defended Saidov say they have also faced threats connected to the case, according to the watchdog. “The lawyers reported that the pressure on them had significantly increased in relation to a lawsuit which they brought against the head of the State Finance Control and Anti-Corruption Agency, Fattokh Sayidov. They alleged that the head of the Agency threatened that if they did not drop the case, they would ‘share the dock’ with their client, the former Minister.”
David Trilling is Eurasianet’s managing editor.