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Accused 'chief' confesses to leading Uzbekistan uprising

[JURIST] In trial proceedings in Uzbekistan, Muidin Sobirov confessed Wednesday to his role as a key planner of the bloody demonstrations in the Uzbekistan city of Andijan in May [JURIST news archive]. Sobirov is among the 15 men charged [JURIST report] with being Muslim extremists and trying to overthrow the Uzbek government. The 15 defendants have pleaded guilty to all charges against them. Speaking from within a metal cage Wednesday, Sobirov confessed to his involvement with the Andijan religious group known as the Akramists, and the group's plans to overthrow the government and start an Islamic state. Prosecutors in the case also argued on the opening day of the trial that Western aid groups and media helped in the effort to overthrow the government [Guardian report], by "blacken[ing] the actions of the Uzbek government and help[ing] destabilise society." Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a report [text; press release] Tuesday alleging that the Uzbekistan government went to extremes to cover-up the killing of 187 demonstrators during the uprising; including torturing people to confess religious extremist involvement, and state that government force against protestors was warranted because the demonstration turned violent. The group has also called on the European Union and the United States to impose an arms embargo on Uzbekistan as well as a visa ban on senior Uzbek government officials. BBC News has more. The Uzbekistan National News Agency has local coverage.

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