Sweden: Uzbek couple to be tried over imam shooting

3rd Jun 2013

A man and woman previously cleared as suspects in the attempted murder of exiled regime-critic Obid Nazarov in northern Sweden will now be tried in the Court of Appeal.

The couple are suspected of assisting the man who shot Nazarov in the head in the small town of Strömsund in February 2012. The imam survived the attack, but suffered severe injuries.

The attack is believed to have been politically motivated, with Nazarov’s son David claiming it was ordered by the Uzbek regime.

Nazarov, who served as an imam in Strömsund, was a known critic of the regime. He came to Sweden in 2006 along with scores of other political refugees after a 2005 crackdown by Uzbek government troops in Andijan.

The incident is known as the Andijan massacre, but the exact number of casualties remains in dispute. Uzbekistan’s government claimed the demonstrations were organized by Islamic radicals.

In the wake of the influx of Uzbek refugees, Strömsund, a town of just over 4,000 residents, saw a rise in hate crimes ranging from racist graffiti to the burning down of a mosque in 2008.

The Uzbek couple has admitted to helping the gunman, who has since left Sweden, but have said they were unaware of his plans to shoot the imam.

“We hope the truth will come out,” David Nazarov told news agency TT.

On February 22nd, which marked one year since the attack, David Nazarov and other Uzbeks living in Sweden held a demonstration outside the parliament in Stockholm.

They demanded greater efforts from politicians and authorities to resolve the case.

“They must act when this kind of attack on Swedish society happens,” David Nazarov told news agency TT at the time.

Rumours have circulated that the gunman has been arrested in Russia. Addressing the crowds at the demonstration, Mehmet Kaplan of the Swedish Green Party said Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt should demand the gunman’s extradition.

But Bildt told reporters that “this is a matter for the justice system”.

The Uzbek man and woman, who are both in their thirties, were freed in a District Court in July 2012. The trial in the Court of Appeals begins Monday.

TT/The Local/nr

http://www.thelocal.se/48278/20130602/

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