Appeal of Christian in Uzbekistan Rejected by the Judge

UZBEKISTAN: Raids, criminal charges and Christmas Bible destruction

ICC Note:

A Christian man in Uzbekistan sought to “overturn a large fine” given to him for allegedly distributing religious literature illegally. The man had 1,300 books, 2,100 brochures, 450 leaflets, 50 magazines, 200 videos, and 350 audio cassettes confiscated from his home and “expertly analyzed” in one day. To be expertly analyzed, all of these items must be thoroughly read, listened to, and scrutinized; an impossible feat in that amount of time. Also, witnesses in his court case were fictitious.

By Mushfig Bayram

01/31/2013 Uzbekistan (Forum 18) – “…Different appeal against same judge’s fine and literature destruction rejected

Meanwhile, on 10 December 2012 Judge Bakhtiyor Miralimov of Tashkent Regional Criminal Court rejected the appeal of Vadim Shim, a member of an unregistered Protestant Church in Bostanlyk District. Shim had been seeking to overturn the large fine given to him by the lower court a month earlier.

On 9 November 2012, Judge Obidov – who later ordered the Christmas Bible destruction – had fined Shim 100 times the then minimum monthly wage for allegedly illegally distributing religious literature, and books including Bibles and New Testaments were been ordered to be destroyed. Legal procedures were violated, the official who produced “expert analyses” allegedly managing to within one working day read 1,300 books, 2,100 brochures, 450 leaflets, 50 magazines, watch 200 videos, and listen to 350 audio cassettes. “This beats the Guinness Book of Records”, a local Protestant observed to Forum 18 (see F18News 29 November 2012 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=1773). 

Fabricated case

Protestants familiar with the case complained to Forum 18 that in upholding the fine, Judge Miralimov ignored proof presented to the Court that the case had been fabricated. Among many violations, the Protestants pointed out that the “witnesses in the case are fictitious, while one of them is even on the police wanted list”. They also complained that Judge Obidov invited to the hearing “an uneducated person” to act as translator into Russian.

Elkhom Tagayev of the Court Chancellery said that Judge Miralimov “will not make any comments” on the decision. “If Shim is not satisfied, he can still challenge our decision,” he insisted to Forum 18 on 31 January. Asked why religious believers cannot keep their religious books or films, and why this is so strictly controlled and punished, Tagayev refused to comment.

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