A district court in Sweden has sentenced an Uzbek national to 18 years in jail for severely injuring an imam critical of the regime in Tashkent. The man was acting on behalf of "someone else," the court said.
Yury Zhukovsky, 37, was convicted for shooting and trying to kill Obidkhon Sobitkhony, also known as Obid Nazarov, an imam snd staunch critic of Uzbekistan's government.
"Everything indicates that [Zhukovsky] was on assignment for someone. There was clearly a connection to someone in Russia," the Ostersund District Court said on Tuesday, adding that the possibility of a contract killing had influenced the sentencing.
Zhukovsky made at least 34 phone calls and sent text messages to a number in Russia on the day the former imam was shot, the judge said. The court also ordered that Zhukovsky be expelled after finishing jail time in Sweden.
The 37-year-old was extradited to Sweden in August this year after he was arrested in Moscow. He confessed he was keeping an eye on Obid Nazarov, but denied having attacked him.
However, Zhukovsky's DNA was found on a rucksack and a car linked to the attack on Nazarov in 2012. The Imam was shot in the back of his head in Stromsund, a town in Sweden's north. Nazarov now suffers from brain damage.
Obid Nazarov moved to Sweden and was granted asylum there in 2006. Uzbek authorities had accused him of forming a terror organization after he criticized tightening governmental control on Muslim institutions.
According to human rights groups, thousands of Muslims have been detained in Uzbekistan on charges of forming terror groups and conspiring to create an Islamic state.
mg/msh (AFP, AP)