Uzbek Minister Leaves Germany After Probe Opens | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 21.12.2005
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Uzbek Minister Leaves Germany After Probe Opens

Human rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch has opened an investigation into why Germany let Uzbek Interior Minister Zokirjon Almatov, "the butcher of Tashkent," leave the country.


Germany allowed the ailing Almatov to visit on humanitarian grounds

Uzbek Interior Minister Zokirjon Almatov has left Germany, where he had been receiving cancer treatment, after complaints were filed against him for human rights abuses, a lawyer told AFP.

"According to our information he has left Germany, but we do not know why," said lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck.

He is acting for Human Rights Watch, one of the human rights bodies which have pressed the German state prosecutor to open a case against Almatov for his role in the suppression in May of an uprising in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan.

Human Rights Watch says Almatov ordered the crackdown and also accuses him of being responsible for the use of torture by police in places of pre-trial detention and in prisons.

UN appealed to Germany

Aufstand in Usbekistan blutig niedergeschlagen

The minister is accused of human rights violations in May

German prosecutors said on Monday that they were "investigating two complaints, one brought by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the other by Amnesty International against the minister.

This followed an appeal on Friday by the UN special official on torture, Manfred Nowak, to Berlin to investigate the charges brought by the human rights groups and probe Almatov "for crimes of torture."

Nowak said in a statement that "torture is subject to universal jurisdiction, and states are under obligation to investigate allegations of torture, independently of where such acts have


Kaleck said however that it seemed the German authorities had "not taken any action," adding that they should not have allowed Almatov to leave the country.

"If he were a burglar, he would have been thrown into jail," he said.

A visa for humanitarian reasons

Almatov was receiving medical care in the northern German city of Hanover just before the European Union issued a travel ban against 12 Uzbek officials, including him, as a result of the Andijan uprising.

A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry said that Almatov had been allowed into Germany for humanitarian reasons and was granted a visa after consultations with Brussels and Britain, which holds the rotating EU presidency.

Massengrab in Usbekistan

Anonymous graves of civilians killed by police are said to number in the hundreds

She said that Almatov applied for the visa in Moscow, where he told authorities that he risked dying of his illness.

Almatov was the government "negotiator" during the Andijan uprising.

Uzbek authorities have said that 187 people died in the violence, all due to the actions of Islamic insurgents, while human rights group say that troops opened fire on and killed hundreds of unarmed civilians.

Seventy-three people have so far been sentenced over the Andijan violence, most of them accused of an attempted Islamist coup, but some of them security officials and soldiers accused of negligence.

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