23 Nov 2018 11:13

Tajik FM briefs reporters on Nov 8 riot in Khujand prison

DUSHANBE. Nov 23 (Interfax) - Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin, speaking to reporters in Brussels on Friday, provided details of a riot that erupted in a penitentiary in Khujand, northern Tajikistan, two weeks ago.

It was the first statement by a representative of the country's authorities following the incident.

Muhriddin said 21 participants in the prison riot had been neutralized. Most of the rioters were people convicted of terrorism-related crimes, including persons linked with the Islamic State (ISIL) terrorist organization (banned in Russia), he said.

Two prison employees were killed and five security guards were hospitalized with serious injuries during the riot, the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Tajik Service (Radio Ozodi) said, citing the minister.

"Wardens and employees of the penal colony called on the rioters to start dialogue. But the inmates continued their resistance, and several people tried to escape. [...] Twelve of the inmates killed [during the riot] were serving their sentences for participation in hostilities in Syria and Iraq on the side of ISIL. Three inmates were members of the extremist groups Ansarullah, Jundallah and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The other six had been convicted of grave crimes such as murder and large-scale drug trafficking," the radio station quoted the minister as saying.

Muhriddin is heading Tajikistan's delegation to the 7th meeting of the EU-Tajikistan Cooperation Council in Brussels.

It was reported earlier on Friday that the Tajik president had relieved Tajik Deputy Justice Minister and head of the Main Department for Penitentiaries Izzatullo Sharifzoda of his duties.

The prison riot broke out in the 16th microdistrict of Khujand in the early hours of November 8. The Tajik media said the riot killed from 10 to 50 inmates and two guards. The media also said several days ago that the warden, Faizullo Safarzoda, was dismissed and detained on counts of the abuse of office and negligence.