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Journalist, two human rights defenders, private citizen facing criminal defamation charges over article about alleged interior ministry abuse

(Adil Soz/IFEX) - Journalist Abdumalik Sharipov, two employees of the local human rights organisation "Justice" - Valentina Gritsenko and Mahamadzhana Abdushaparova - and a private citizen, Nargiza Turdiyeva, are facing defamation and insult charges under Articles 127 and 128 of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic.

The charges stem from a January 2006 article, entitled "Women are being beaten, even the pregnant ones", in the publication "Pravo dlya vseh". The criminal charges were laid following a complaint filed by the article's main figure: the interior department's senior investigator in the Zhalalabat region, Ali Mageyev.

In addition to the criminal charges filed against the four, Mageyev is seeking compensation for material and moral damages, which he estimated to be 156,851 som (approx. US$4,160) and 1,000,000 som (approx. US$26,525), respectively.

On 17 January 2006, Turdiyeva, a resident of Suzak village, sent a complaint to the human rights organisation. In her complaint, she claimed that Mageyev used threats to force her to change her initial testimony during questioning, for which she had been summoned as a witness. Furthermore, he struck the woman in the chest, saying "Do not be afraid of a miscarriage, you will get pregnant again in the basement of the IVS (temporary detention facility)." Nargiza was taken to hospital later the same day with a threatened miscarriage.

The plaintiff, in a legal statement, said that "the human rights defenders insulted him, inflicted moral and psychological suffering on him and his relatives, destroying his reputation as a militia officer, investigator and representative of the authorities, by insulting his honour and dignity."

The first court hearings in the case against the four started on 20 June 2006. However the court had to stop the proceedings due to health problems.

New hearings in the case at Zhalalabat city court are scheduled for 22 May 2007.

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