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Editor, two journalists face criminal libel charges over concert review

(Adil Soz/IFEX) - The following is a statement by the National Association of Independent Mass Media of Tajikistan (NANSMIT), an Adil Soz partner:

Saida Kurbonova, editor-in-chief of the "Ovoza" newspaper, and two of the newspaper's journalists, Mukhaiyo Nozimova and Farangis Nabiyeva, are facing charges under Article 135 ("slander contained in public speeches"), Article 136 ("insult contained in public speeches") and Article 144 ("illegal collection and distribution of private information") of the Criminal Code.

The charges stem from a 21 June 2007 article in "Ovoza", describing a concert given by Tajik signer Raikhona Rakhimova in Afghanistan. In her complaint, Rakhimova claims the article insults her honor and dignity.

Nozimova believes that the decision of the prosecutor's office to file charges is rather in response to their expressing a critical opinion. "We are being persecuted for expressing a critical opinion, and this is a violation of article 30 of the Constitution."

The defendants' lawyer, Inoyat Inoyatov, reported that the article only quotes comments posted by visitors to the website http://www.mynet.tj

The first court hearing, scheduled for 9 October, was postponed because Rakhimova failed to appear in court.

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