Kyrgyzstan: Popular Imam Gets 5-Year Jail Term
Oct 8, 2015
A court in the southern Kyrgyzstan town of Kara-Suu has sentenced a popular local imam to five years in prison on charges of inciting religious hatred and distributing extremist material.
The verdict delivered on the evening of October 7 marked the culmination of a four-month trial that Rashot Kamalov's lawyers regularly complained was marred by irregularities.
While accusations of extremism are not unusual in Kyrgyzstan, Kamalov has been the most prominent and influential religious to date to face prosecution for the offense. The imam's standing rests in great part on the reputation of his father, Rafik, a widely admired religious leader from Kara-Suu who was killed by Kyrgyz security forces in 2006.
Kamalov's defense team say they will appeal.
The imam was arrested on February 9 following a raid on his home by armed special operations forces. Police found a disk during their search that contained a video recording of a sermon delivered by Kamalov at Kara-Suu's As-Sarakhsi Mosque during Friday prayers on July 4, 2014.
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