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Two charged for aiding shooter of Uzbek imam

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09:58 CEST+02:00
Charges were filed on Friday against a married couple suspected of aiding in the attempted murder of an Uzbek imam and regime critic living in Sweden in what prosecutors believe may be a political assassination attempt.

“We haven't found any other motive, such as money or jealousy,” said prosecutor Krister Petersson to the TT news agency.

The victim, Obydkhon Sobitkhony Nazarov, was shot in the head outside his Strömsund home on February 22nd.

The suspected shooter has an Uzbek passport and a Russian driver's license, and left the country two days after the attempted murder. An international warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The couple, also from Uzbekistan, wasn't in Strömsund at the time of the shooting, but are believed to have aided the shooter extensively according to Petersson, including letting him stay repeatedly in their Malmö home.

“We have computer records that show they searched the victim's name and found his address. They've contacted the tax authorities and found out his birthdate,” Petersson said.

The married couple is also suspected of having helped the shooter rent a car and find a place to stay in Strömsund, according to the prosecution.

The shooter travelled twice to Strömsund, for reconnaissance and photo documentation, and following a short trip to Riga returned to Sweden on February 20th.

Two days later the attempted murder was committed.

“He has had phone contact with the accused frequently, hundreds of phone calls, but they stopped once he left the country,” Petersson said.

The couple then wiped their computers and mobile phones clean in an attempt to cover their tracks.

Erik Boberg, the woman's attorney, said she denies all crimes.

“She feels tricked and used by this man that the police claim is the shooter. She admits that she's helped him with different things, but she has an explanation,” said Boberg.

As a well-known religious leader and political dissident Nazarov, who fled his central Asian homeland and came to Sweden 2006, was not viewed positively by the Uzbek regime, which is know to view deeply religious regime critics as terrorists.

Nazarov came to Sweden along with scores of other political refugees after a 2005 crackdown by Uzbek government troops in Andijan in which hundreds of protesters were killed, although the exact number of casualties remains in dispute.

Today he is internationally wanted by Uzbekistan

Another Uzbek imam known as a critic of the regime was murdered in Moscow in the fall of 2011, and Uzbek press have been campaigning against Nazarov, according to Petersson.

Nazarov was shot with a revolver with a silencer, and received life-threatening injuries. His condition is now stable, but he has still not regained consciousness.

Petersson believes Nazarov will never be able to live a somewhat normal life.

The married couple denies all crimes, and the trial is expected to begin in Östersund's district court on Thursday.

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