Prison warden standing trial over inmate’s death sentenced to 5½ years in prison

Prison warden standing trial over inmate’s death sentenced to 5½ years in prison

Prison warden Mahmoud Ismoilov, who stood trial over the death of prison inmate Hamza Ikromzoda, has got a jail term of five years and six months.

A court in Dushanbe’s Ismoili Somoni district sentenced the prison warden Mahmoud Ismoilov to 5½ years in prison on May 29.  The sentence followed his conviction on charges of exceeding powers (Article 316 (3) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code).  Ismoilov will serve his term in a high-security penal colony.    

Ms. Gulchehra Kholmatova, the lawyer for the family of Hamza Ikromzoda, says that while pronouncing the sentence, the judge noted that despite the fact that Ismoilov put Ikromzoda in disciplinary cell without drawing up appropriate documents and was involved in beating him, Ikromzoda, however, died as a result of suicide by hanging.

The trial that began at Dushanbe’s pretrial detention center # 1 on May 15 was held behind closed doors.

Criminal proceedings have also been instituted against three colleagues of Ismoilov, including Rustam Toshtemirov, Sherafgan Safarov and Narzullo Afghonov, but the preliminary investigation into their case is still going on.

Hamza Ikromzoda, 27, died at Dushanbe’s penal colony # 1 on September 20, 2012.  In 2010, Ikromzoda was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment for robbery.

His relatives claim that he was tortured. They say his body carried traces of torture, including burns caused by a heated iron.

Tajik authorities, however, denied these allegations. They maintained that Ikromzoda committed suicide by hanging and that the marks on his body were caused by desperate attempts to revive him after he had been found.

Lawyers for the family said on October 24, 2012 that they were told by the prosecutor-general's office that the autopsy proved that Ikromzoda had hanged himself.  According to them, they were asked to sign papers prohibiting them from making the autopsy results public.

Ikromzoda's former cellmate, Saidali Qazoqov, told a press conference in Dushanbe on October 8, 2012 that abuse by prison authorities was a widespread practice.  He said that the only way inmates could avoid mistreatment was to get their relatives to pay bribes of $200- $500 to prison officials.

In early October last year, Tajik human rights organizations urged the government to thoroughly investigate Ikromzoda's death, listing six other suspicious deaths in custody.