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Russians arrest imam shooting suspect

Russian security services have arrested a 35-year-old man suspected of the attempted murder of an imam in northern Sweden in February, according to a report in the Kvällsposten daily.

The newspaper reported that preparations are currently underway to have the man extradited to Sweden.

Uzbek imam Obydkhon Sobitkhony Nazarov was shot in the head outside his Strömsund home in northern Sweden on February 22nd.

The 35-year-old man is known to have left the country shortly after what police consider to be an assassination attempt and has since been subject to an international arrest warrant.

According to the newspaper, the man was arrested by the Russian security service after their Swedish counterparts Säpo noted that he had used the same mobile phone in Russia that he had in Sweden.

An Uzbek couple accused of complicity in the high-profile assassination attempt were acquitted by a district court in July. The court judgement has since been appealed.

A well-known religious leader and political dissident Nazarov, who fled his central Asian homeland and came to Sweden 2006, is not viewed positively by the Uzbek regime, which is known to see 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. After the assassination attempt Nazarov received life-threatening injuries. His has still not regained consciousness.

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COUPLE

Uzbek couple freed over imam shooting

A man and woman in northern Sweden were cleared on Monday by the Court of Appeals over suspicions of being accessories to the attempted murder of exiled Uzbek regime-critic Obid Nazarov.

“The judgement is catastrophic because its about such a serious crime that was carried out by another state,” David Nazarov, the son of the imam, told the TT news agency.

Nazarov believed the prosecutor's evidence was compelling, and that the attack was politically motivated and ordered by the Uzbek regime.

“The judgement will have serious consequences. The Uzbek regime has been given the green light. They will surely continue their political attacks against the opposition, and there are several of them in Sweden besides just my father,” he added.

David Nazarov now hopes the case will be taken on by the Supreme Court.

The two suspects, both Uzbek nationals, were suspected of assisting the man who shot Nazarov in the head in the small town of Strömsund, northern Sweden, in February 2012. The imam survived the attack, but suffered severe injuries.

The man and woman, who are both in their thirties, were first acquitted by a District Court in July 2012 for their suspected role in the shooting, but found themselves in court once again in early June 2013 following an appeal.

The woman freed in the case was relieved by the appeals court verdict, according to her lawyer.

“The Court of Appeals took note of what has been important for my client the whole time: she says that she has not had any knowledge of what this man had planned,” Erik Boberg told TT.

Nazarov, who served as an imam in Strömsund, was a known critic of the Uzbek regime. He came to Sweden in 2006 along with scores of other political refugees after a 2005 crackdown by Uzbek government troops in Andijan.

The incident is known as the Andijan massacre, but the exact number of casualties remains in dispute. Uzbekistan's government claimed the demonstrations were organized by Islamic radicals.

In the wake of the influx of Uzbek refugees, Strömsund, a town of just over 4,000 residents, saw a rise in hate crimes ranging from racist graffiti to the burning down of a mosque in 2008.

TT/The Local/og

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