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Uzbekistan tries second group of Andijan rebels

[JURIST] New trials have begun in Uzbekistan [JURIST news archive] for fifty-eight people charged with terrorism, religious extremism and other serious crimes stemming from the death of as many as 1,000 villagers in the Uzbek city of Andijan, the country's Supreme Court announced in a statement Thursday. This second round of trials follows the government's successful prosecution [JURIST report] of 15 Andijan villagers accused of leading the May 2005 uprising [JURIST report]. According to the court statement, the defendants will be tried in closed proceedings to ensure the safety of the victims and witnesses, though New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] maintains that the Uzbek officials are simply refusing to allow rights groups to monitor the trials. Uzbek officials say the death toll in the May Andijan uprising [HRW backgrounder] is no greater than 187, but rights groups say that closer to 1,000, mostly unarmed civilians, may have been killed when government forces violently suppressed mass protests in the city. Earlier this week, HRW issued a statement [text] condemning the Uzbek government's handling of the atrocity. Reuters has more.

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