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Uzbek couple freed over imam shooting

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15:10 CEST+02:00
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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