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Uzbekistan opposition leader sentenced on corruption charges

[JURIST] An Uzbek court on Monday sentenced opposition leader Sandjar Umarov [party profile] to 10 years and eight months in prison for organizing a criminal group, tax evasion and money laundering. Umarov, leader of the opposition Sunshine Uzbekistan Coalition [party website], has said he will appeal the decision. Umarov has maintained his innocence, but presiding Judge Zokirjon Isayev said that Umarov's claims "have been fully disproved by witness testimonies and documents."

Umarov was arrested [JURIST report] last October and his trial began in January [JURIST report]. The Bush administration and international human rights organizations have criticized the arrest [JURIST report] as being politically motivated. The coalition gained prominence during the Andijan uprising [JURIST news archive; HRW backgrounder] in May 2005, which prompted President Islam Karimov [BBC profile] to take increasingly repressive steps against opposition groups. Last week, a prominent activist from Sunshine Uzbekistan, Nodira Khidayatova, was sentenced [JURIST report] to ten years in prison for embezzlement and tax evasion. AP has more.

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