Buzurgmehr Yorov was arrested and detained on 28 September 2015. The authorities charged him with fraud related charges and ‘Public invitation to change the constitutional system by violence’ (article 307 of Criminal Code of Tajikistan). An Internal Affairs Ministry spokesperson said the alleged fraud occurred in July 2010, when Yorov had purportedly received US$4,000 from a resident of the city of Istaravshan.
At the time of his arrest, Atty. Yorov had just started to represent thirteen senior leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT). They were arrested by the authorities on various charges on 16 September 2015. The IRPT had been the only Islamic political party legally registered in Central Asia before the Supreme Court of Tajikistan on 29 September 2015, banned the party and declared it a terrorist organization.
Following various prosecutions that ignored international due process standards, Yorov was supposed to serve a combined sentence of 28 years in prison. However, on 26 November 2019, the 28 year prison sentence was shortened by six years. This was part of a recent mass amnesty in Tajikistan, as reported by Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.
Yorov was initially held for eight months before his trial began during which time he was beaten and held in solitary confinement on several occasions. On October 6, 2016, a court sentenced Yorov to 23 years in prison on charges of fraud, forgery, “arousing national, racial, local, or religious hostility”, and extremism. Before his sentencing, Yorov read aloud an 11th century poem by a Persian poet. As a result, authorities charged him with contempt of court and insulting a government official. For these charges he was given a second trial and sentenced to an additional two years. Five months later, Yorov was placed on trial for a third time on charges of fraud and publicly insulting the president.
On 22 October 2018, Freedom Now, Lawyers for Lawyers, Hogan Lovells US LLP, and DLA Piper UK LLP filed a petition with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of human rights lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov.
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