Cast History№ 6: Dilshodbek Murodov

In March 2009 a court convicted 46-year old Dilshodbek Murodov of selling drugs illegally and sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment.

He began to serve his long sentence. Everything, including one’s life, was strictly regimented in prison. Prison made Dilshodbek realize that you value freedom least when you are free and most once you have lost it. He awaited his release patiently. His mother forgave her only beloved son and helped him to cope with the hardship of imprisonment.

6 August 2009 was Dilshodbek’s birthday. Certain that his mother would come and visit him, he started waiting for her as soon as he woke up. When she arrived he was in good spirits, had no complaints and confided in his mother that, having serve in the army abroad, he might be released early.

However, three days later, on 9 August, Murodov’s mother was told that her son died on the 8 August. A medical report she received later stated that Dilshodbek Murodov’s death was caused by heart failure.

The prison administration told the family that traditional religious funeral ablutions and rites had been performed and recommended that they should bury him without opening his shroud. They went as far as making the mother give an oral promise as a condition to releasing Dilshodbek’s body.

Son's pictures are always in a prominent place

The official statement ref. 5/1/3-B-13 issued on 14 August 2009 by the Directorate of Correctional Institutions (DCI) of the Ministry of Justice gives the following explanation of the circumstances of prisoner Murodov’s death: “On 8 August 2009 at approximately 13:00 pm prisoner D.G. Murodov went to the toilet where he lost his balance and fell forward. As a result the left side of his face hit the concrete floor, causing physical injuries. He recovered and when other prisoners came up to him offering help he said he was all right and able to walk. However, after a few steps he tripped and fell onto the concrete floor of the toilet, injuring his head and elbow joints. He was then taken to the medical centre for treatment. After being given first aid and being medication D.G. Murodov’s condition began to stabilize. While out walking, prisoner D.G. Murodov felt unwell and his nose started bleeding. Murodov was given an injection, which helped raise his blood pressure. He was transferred to the Tajik Ministry of Justice central DCI hospital where an examination found scratches on his left foot, hand and left cheek that were not threatening to the prisoner’s life or health. The rest of his body was examined but no signs of injury or any other serious symptoms were detected. The doctors tried to improve his condition but failed and prisoner D.G. Murodov’s died.”

Dilshodbek’s mother thought there was something strange about this version of his death, particularly since it contradicted the earlier report in which “heart failure” was given as the cause of his death. That is why she broke oral promise she had given and lifted the shroud in the morgue, to find numerous signs of beating on his body. She immediately captured them on her mobile phone camera.

Dilshodbek Murodov’s mother appealed to the President of the Republic of Tajikistan demanding that a criminal investigation be opened and those responsible be brought to justice. Her appeal was passed on to the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Tajikistan who opened a criminal investigation on the charge of “inflicting grievous bodily harm resulting in the victim’s death”.

On 2 October 2009 Murodov’s body was exhumed. A forensic medical examination found all his limbs to be intact, and discovered only a crack on the back of his head, caused by a hard blunt object or by a fall from the height of a human body. On 20 December 2009 the investigating prosecutor closed the investigation on the grounds that no crime had been committed.

Muratov’s mother wasn’t informed of this decision until early February 2010. She wrote to the Prosecutor General asking for the investigator’s unlawful decision to be revoked and the investigation to be reopened. The Prosecutor General’s office revoked the investigator’s decision and sent the case for further investigation to the same agency that had taken the decision to cllse the criminal investigation in the first place, i.e. the special prosecutor responsible for prison oversight. The criminal case was closed again without any additional investigation on the grounds the “no crime was found to have been committed”.

A fresh appeal against the unlawful closing of the criminal investigation voiced a lack of confidence in the special prosecutor’s office and the aggrieved party requested that the case be handed over to the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Tajikistan. The appeal was granted and the investigation was reopened.

Murodov's family fighted for a justice to the end

Murodov’s mother reported that an investigator from the Prosecutor General’s office told her in a meeting that her son had died on 8thAugust  rather than on the 7thAugust.

Following a request of the mother’s lawyer the case was examined again, including an examination at the scene, which ruled out the version of events whereby grievous bodily harm resulted from a fall from the height of a human body.

The investigation established that the administration of the correctional institution had failed to provide proper oversight; had been negligent in the discharge of its duties, and had attempted to cover up the fact that the prisoner had been the victim of a serious crime, which resulted in his death on the premises of an institution in its jurisdiction. Yet no action with regard to the administration of the penal colony has been taken to this day.. 

The lawyer has requested, among other things, an investigation into the actions of the medical staff of the prison medical facility, who had knowingly carried out a fake examination to determine the cause of death of prisoner D. Murodov, as well as officials of the Main Directorate of Correctional Institutions of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan, who failed to prevent the prisoner’s death.

On 6 February 2012 the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Tajikistan requested the case file and handed it over to an investigating team at the Investigating Directorate of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Tajikistan.  Since then Murodov’s relatives or their lawyer have not received any information on the progress of the investigation.

I am sitting with the first newsreader of Tajik TV, Lubat Burhanova, Dilshodbek Murodov’s mother. I had never expected to meet the TV idol of the 1980s under these circumstances, or to conduct and interview whose focus would be not be her brilliant professional career but rather her only son who had died tragically in a prison colony…

She arrives carrying heavy bags containing photographs of her son, meticulously sorted, some in beautiful velvet frames, as well as documentation on Dilshodbek’s army service abroad.

In 1982 he was called up to do his two-year military service. He was sent to Bagram in Afghanistan, and assigned to an intelligence unit. When his counter-intelligence company was besieged in Panjshir only 23 people survived, including Dilshodbek.

The words from the famous song, “An intelligence officer’s life is as short as a wrestling match,” suddenly pop into my head. I force myself to focus on Lubat Burhanova’s story. “People in our neighbourhood have several sons, none of them had been in the army and my son was the only one in our block who had served. And he ended up in Afghanistan. It’s really sad that he survived the war in Afghanistan only to be killed in peacetime by prison guards,” she continues, holding back tears. And she adds: “If things had turned out differently Dilshod could have had the rank of a general today!”

It turns out that in 1984, following exemplary service with the counter-intelligence, Dilshodbek was invited to attend a four-year course at the USSR KBG University in Moscow. “People came to our house, explaining that after graduation Dilshod would be sent to work abroad, given a flat,  but I said no…”, his mother recalls, apparently still cursing herself for that decision.

She tries to give a logical justification: “You see, when I graduated from secondary school I asked my father, the famous Soviet intelligence officer Rahim Burhanov, for advice on what to study. And he told me: ‘Pick any profession but I want you to know that I am categorically against artist, lawyer, soldier and diplomat’. These words became a kind of motto of our family.”

Rahim Burhanov’s father was the first ambassador of the Bukhara National Soviet Republic to Germany Mirzo Abdulvohid Munzim and he had taken his son, along with 45 other children to Germany, where he went to school and became completely fluent in German. Rahim Burhanov  later became “the Tadzhik Captain Stierlitz” [[1]]: he managed to infiltrate the Nazi intelligence and pass on information on Wehrmacht plans to Russian agents. Burhanov was promoted to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer and was in a hospital in Karlovy Vary when the war ended. He was the one who had detained the Soviet traitor, general Vlasov, and personally reported it to Stalin. Burhanov received numerous decorations from the Soviet government and by a decree of the President of Tajikistan he was posthumously awarded the Spitamen Award of the first degree.

Alas, Dilshodbek was not meant to follow in his illustrious grandfather’s footsteps. He was never told about the tempting offer from the intelligence service. Following his mother’s advice Dilshodbek went to study medicine and became a doctor. “Now I can’t go past the university’s medical department without tears. The sight of students in white gowns makes me weep…” says the distraught woman.

She says her two children – her son Dilshodbek and daughter Gulyuzor – were fortunate enough to understand what the words happy childhood mean. “I used to travel all over Russia for my job, bringing them the best clothes, lovely toys and tasty sweets. They grew up healthy, without even seeing the inside of a doctor’s surgery or a hospital.”

That is why she is outraged at the prison doctor’s diagnosis of “heart failure” as she believes that Dilshodbek was an absolutely healthy man and if he had suffered any heart problems he would certainly not have been sent to Afghanistan.

At the beginning of 2013, when se started losing hope that justice would be done and the officials punished, the unhappy mother wrote a letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. “I have attached to my letter several photos of my son, taken before he was buried and showing marks of beating, with detailed comments on each photograph. Now I’m waiting for a reply,” she says.

Dilshodbek’s two children – eight-year old daughter Jononhon and six-year old son Komronbek – are now growing up without father. They don’t yet understand what had happened to their father and why he is not with them…

The 81 years old mother of Dilshodbek Murodov, Lubat Burkhonova  passed away on 2 July 2016 in Dushanbe. Recently she had serious health issues, suffering a stroke after the death of her son.

In March 2016 Lubat Burkhonova appealed to Ismoili Somoni district court for compensation of moral damage resulting from the death of the only breadwinner – her son Dilshodbek Murodov. She demanded a compensation of 334,950 somoni from the Main Directorate of Correctional Institutions of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan.

However, on 16 June 2016, Ismoili Somoni district court of Dushanbe rejected the appeal for moral damage, claiming that the investigation previously failed to identify persons accused in the death of Murodov.

Based on this fact the Prosecutor General of Tajikistan had launched a criminal case under part 3 of article 110 of the Criminal Code (causing serious bodily harm that caused the death of the victim).

The investigation into the criminal case was suspended for four times and for the lack of evidence, and after repeated appeals was reopened again though the court decided to dismiss it based on the ground that the investigation failed to identify the guilty person.




[1] famous fictitious Soviet intelligence officer from the TV series Seventeen moments of spring


Materials was prepared in the frame of the project on “Actions against torture in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan”, with financial assistance of the European Union The contents of this materials  are the sole responsibility of the organizations issuing it and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.