A court in Uzbekistan has sentenced a group of police officers to prison sentences of up to four years over their involvement in the torture and death of a criminal suspect.
Sanjarbek Mamajonov, a 31-year-old resident of the Andijan region, was arrested in March following his alleged failure to abide by the terms of the sentence he had been given for theft. He had been ordered by the court to carry out correctional labor.
Once back behind bars, Mamajonov was subjected to sustained physical abuse, according to evidence revealed in a trial that concluded last month. The court heard that he has been punched, kicked and beaten with a baton over the course of several hours one night for his purported failure to “observe the rules” in the detention facility. The beatings are said to have been carried out in the stairwell to avoid them being caught by closed-circuit cameras.
After a night of this maltreatment, Mamajonov was returned to the cell, where he was again assaulted by a fellow prisoner.
Mamajonov ultimately died from his injuries.
The doctors who examined Mamajonov before his death denied him hospitalization and later falsified his medical records to claim he bore no external injuries and was in good health. An autopsy later showed that Mamajonov had sustained numerous severe traumas to his head and ribs and was bleeding internally.
Fully 13 people, including 10 law enforcement officers, two doctors, and another prisoner, were put on trial over Mamajonov’s death. The group faced a variety of charges, ranging from grievous bodily harm to abuse of power and criminal negligence.
While all defendants were found guilty, their penalties were relatively mild given the gravity of the offense. Seven were sentenced to four years in prison, while another six were given three years of “restricted liberty.”
The court ruling was passed in May, but it was only made public last week.
While gruesome, it is generally understood that abuse in custody of the sort suffered by Mamajonov remains commonplace. In June, a 36-year-old detainee was savagely beaten by the police in the Buka district in Tashkent region and later likewise died of his injuries. Two police officers were fired and charged with torture.
In another case, two businessmen – Dilshod Turakhodjayev and Khasanboy Abdunabiev – alleged they were subjected to abuse in detention facilities. Turakhodjayev, who was detained in April on suspicion of being a member of a “large criminal group,” had lived in Russia for 20 years before returning to Uzbekistan in 2020. In an interview with a local TV channel, he said he had faith in President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s reforms and that he had come to believe it would be possible to set up a prospering enterprise in his native country.
Following these cases coming to light, the Ombudsman's Office issued a statement describing torture as a "disease within the body of society" and called for greater transparency within the Interior Ministry.
"The situation in the Buka district confirms that torture is still being allowed during investigation. It is not permissible for suspects or defendants to be beaten and killed during interrogations and investigations," the statement said.