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Uzbek interior minister faces torture, crimes against humanity charges

[JURIST] Survivors of the May 2005 Andijan uprising [HRW backgrounder] have filed a lawsuit in Germany under that country's universal jurisdiction laws [Amnesty backgrounder], accusing Uzbek Interior Minister Zokirjon Almatov of torture and crimes against humanity, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said Thursday. Troops under Almatov's command fired on the thousands of protesters gathered after rebels stormed a prison [JURIST report] and freed a group of businessmen on trial for alleged Islamic extremism. Rights groups have alleged that over 500 protestors were killed [JURIST report] as the government struggled to end the demonstrations, though Uzbek officials say there only 187 who died. HRW and the eight survivors who filed the lawsuit allege that Almatov was the direct commander responsible [press release] and that he oversees the special security forces that were responsible for the killings. The suit has been filed with German federal prosecutors, though prosecutors have not yet decided whether to take up the case. Dozens of protestors have already been convicted [JURIST report] on terrorism charges in a series of trials [JURIST report] of those who led and participated in the uprising. The latest group of defendants went on trial [JURIST report] Wednesday, including 38 policemen and soldiers who have been charged with negligence in failing to prevent attacks on government facilities. AP has more.

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