Uzbekistan: Secret Trial for Father of Exiled Opposition Leader
The elderly father of an exiled opposition leader is reportedly being tried behind closed doors in Uzbekistan on rape charges that his supporters say are intended to punish his son. Hasan Choriyev, 71, was arrested on June 17 and later charged with raping a 19-year-old woman. He has been held incommunicado since his arrest over seven weeks ago, the independent Uznews.net website says. Hasan is accustomed to harassment from officials. He is the father of Bahodyr Choriyev, the leader of the opposition Birdamlik (“Solidarity”) movement, who has lived in American exile since 2004. In November 2012, a local court fined him $11,000 for slander. When he failed to pay the extraordinary sum, his farmland, livestock and house were seized. Earlier, in 2011, authorities fined him $8,500 for “stealing” electricity – that is, using it without meter – after the meter was stolen. Uznews.net reported on August 5 that the hearings into Choriyev senior’s case started on July 26 behind closed doors but were postponed indefinitely because of the alleged victim’s failure to appear in court. The defendant’s family has struggled to glean details about the case. Choriyev's lawyer – whom family members fear is colluding with authorities – has cited “investigative secrecy.” Human rights activists speaking with Uznews.net say the rape charges are “revenge” – an attempt to punish Choriyev’s son after he expressed ambitions to run for president (the next election is in December 2014): The elder Choriyev was arrested a day after Fergana News cited the younger Choriyev saying that he was reluctant to get American citizenship as it would prevent him from running for president in Uzbekistan. Relatives say the senior Choriyev, who has suffered from both a heart attack and a stroke in the last two years, could not have seen his alleged victim on the day investigators claimed the crime took place because he was being held in the regional prosecutor’s office during one of his routine summons for questioning.