World Bulletin / News Desk
A Swedish prosecutor says there is evidence suggesting that Uzbek authorities were behind a February 2012 assassination attempt against a cleric who was critical of President Islam Karimov's government reported RFE/RL.
Obidkhon Qori Nazarov, a popular imam who was granted asylum in Sweden in 2006 after fleeing Uzbekistan in 1998, was shot at least three times in the town of Stromsund, where he lives. Relatives have told RFE/RL that he suffers from brain damage as a result of the attack.
Prosecutor Krister Petersson told RFE/RL on September 2 that "there is a lot of evidence and facts that point to the Uzbek regime [being] behind this."
Petersson questioned why he has received "no support" from the Uzbek government in solving a crime whose victim they saw as "a terrorist."
"If I had such a suspect, I would really like to get my hands on him. But in the summer of 2011 the Uzbek authorities said they discontinued...their international warrant for [Nazarov]. And seven months later he is shot here in Sweden," the prosecutor said in English.
"I can also draw my conclusions from the fact that I have received no support whatsoever, no cooperation whatsoever from the Uzbek authorities, which leads me to think that they don’t want me to find out the truth about this," he said. "So I think we have a lot of indications that the attack was ordered in Uzbekistan."
Petersson also said to RFE/RL that Uzbek citizen Yury Zhukovsky who has been extradited to Russia has denied any involvement in the shooting.
In March 2006, after leaving Tashkent he arrived in Sweden, where he received political asylum after the UN concluded that Nazarov was a victim of political persecution by the Uzbek authorities and needed to be protected.
Swedish authorities tried a married Uzbek couple they accused of involvement in the attack, but a court in the northern town of Ostersund found them not guilty in July 2012.
The couple - who have left for Uzbekistan this year - reportedly testified to having helped someone locate Nazarov, and to having visited the mosque in Stromsund where he served as imam. But they claimed at the trial that they were not aware of any plan to kill the cleric.
The suspect in the shooting was identified in court papers as "Jukovskiy," a variant of the Latin spelling of the name Zhukovsky.