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Trial of Tajikistan’s opposition politician starts behind closed doors

September 12, 2013, 11:44 UTC+3

Zaid Saidov is accused of bribe taking, embezzlement, abuse of power, as well as of polygamy and sexual abuse

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DUSHANBE, September 12 (Itar-Tass) - A trial of Tajikistan’s opposition politician and well-known businessman Zaid Saidov has started behind closed doors.

“Secrecy label was put on the criminal case and court hearings, therefore the trial takes place behind closed doors at a detention facility of the national security committee,” the chairman of the Central Asian republic’s Supreme Court, Nusratullo Abdullayev, told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

Shukhrat Kudratov, one of Saidov’s three lawyers said their client was accused under eight articles of Tajikistan’s Criminal Code, in particular of bribe taking, embezzlement, abuse of power, as well as of polygamy and sexual abuse.

Saidov, the former industry minister, categorically denies these accusations, while his lawyers call this persecution politically motivated noting that the arrest “strangely coincided with Saidov’s statement on the creation of his political party New Tajikistan.”

Zaid Saidov, who had been heading an association of small and medium businesses in recent years, was detained by officers of Tajikistan’s anti-corruption agency at Dushanbe airport last May while returning from his business trip to Paris.

The entrepreneur’s lawyers said all charges against Saidov concerned events of 2006-2008, although persecution began in May. During that time he lived and worked in Dushanbe without fleeing from justice.

Independent observers did not rule out that the opening of a criminal case against Saidov could be linked with the presidential election on November 6. The businessman had repeatedly stated that he had no plans to run in the presidential race and would prepare for the parliamentary elections. However, being in Tajikistan’s top ten wealthiest people he could have supported a candidate from the opposition.

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