The mother of a businessman in southern Uzbekistan allegedly killed while in police custody was granted an unlikely audience with the president, only to reportedly be prevented this week from leaving her hometown by the local police.
Murodillo Omonov, a 32-year old businessman in the Surkhandarya region, around 700 kilometers from the capital, Tashkent, was allegedly tortured and later died as a result of mistreatment he suffered after being detained on January 20 as he returned home from a wedding.
After Omonov was buried, his family demanded his exhumation and medical examiners found the body to bear signs of physical abuse not consonant with the official cause of death, heart failure. Police later changed their story, however, to say that Omonov had hanged himself.
Omonov’s mother, Karamat Kadyrova, wrote a direct appeal to President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to intervene in the case. In an unexpected development, she claims to have received a phone call from the presidential administration and to have been invited to go to Tashkent.
An attempt to meet the president earlier this year was thwarted, but she was due for another appointment on June 22 at 10 a.m.
Independent journalist and rights activist Malohat Eshonqulova reported that on the evening of June 19, as Kadyrova was driving toward Tashkent she was stopped by police at a checkpoint. Kadyrova was then taken to the Jarkurgan district court in Surkhandarya region, Eshonqulova wrote on her Facebook account.
Eshonqulova told EurasiaNet.org it was midnight by the time Kadyrova was brought to the courthouse and that nobody was present to process her case.
“The judge wasn’t there, so they woke him up and brought him to the court. Then they concocted some case about Karamat Kadyrova committing acts of hooliganism. Now activists are filing a petition to ensure [her] release,” Eshonqulova said.
Kadyrova has made an influential enemy by claiming in public that her son was killed on the orders of the head of a local bazaar who was seeking to expropriate property from her.
Kadyrova has also managed to draw unusually high-level attention to her plight. On January 29, she met with the Interior Minister Abdusalam Azizov, who promised a just outcome to the case.
The twists and turns around this investigation — or lack thereof — is but one of multiple test beds for Mirziyoyev and his government to prove whether planned intentions to reform are genuine or otherwise. Particular emphasis has been placed on the emergence of a new-look and more accountable police force, and a negative outcome in this instance would spell bad news for everybody.