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Uzbek Court Sentences Rights Leader to Prison


An international rights group says a prominent human rights activist in Uzbekistan has been sent to prison for eight years for anti-government activity and economic crimes.

Human Rights Watch reports Tuesday, that Mutabar Tojiboyeva, a longtime critic of the government of President Islam Karimov, was found guilty Monday of blackmail, theft and slander. She was sentenced by a court in Tashkent province, south of the capital.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch says the case illustrates a pattern of persecution against "independent voices" and critics of the Uzbek government, following a bloody crackdown by state security forces last year that killed hundreds of demonstrators.

Rights groups have collected reports from witnesses who described a massacre carried out by security forces last May in the eastern city of Andijan. The government denies the accusations.

Tojiboyeva, who was arrested in October, is one of scores of government opponents rounded up in recent weeks and months. Two opposition leaders were sentenced last week to 10 years in prison (each) for economic crimes.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.