Uzbekistani Prosecutors accuse Western media of 700 deaths

Prosecutors accused Western media, human rights groups and aid organization of collaborating with leaders of Uzbekistan's May uprising that was brutally put down by government troops, according to a statement published Wednesday.

Prosecutors told parliament on Tuesday that employees of unnamed media and other groups had been advised beforehand about the uprising in the eastern city of Andijan and told to "spread lies about actions of authorities and law enforcement agencies."

Prosecutors said civilians had been "lured" into Andijan's streets "to imitate a popular uprising" and allow "omnipresent" foreign human rights groups and journalists to report "alleged slaughter of unarmed civilians."

The statement did not identify which organizations or groups were allegedly responsible.

Human rights groups say more than 700 people were killed by government troops putting down the May 13 uprising, which participants say was triggered by rights abuses and poverty. Authorities put the death toll at 187 and blame the unrest on Islamic extremists, the AP informs.

Fifteen people who allegedly participated in the unrest are expected to go on trial on Sept. 20 and authorities said they are investigating 106 more suspects.

Authorities are also investigating 25 police and military officials for "criminal negligence" in connection with the unrest.

Prosecutors also have demanded that Romania extradite 234 Uzbek refugees, who were evacuated there by the United Nations after fleeing the Andijan crackdown, said Svetland Artikova, a prosecutors' spokeswoman. The 234 were responsible for crimes at home, she said.

The United Nations has recognized them all as refugees. Earlier, it said Uzbekistan has failed to provide criminal evidence against the refugees.

President Islam Karimov, who tightly controls this ex-Soviet republic, has rejected calls for an international inquiry into the violence. His government has long been criticized for its poor human rights record, especially the harsh persecution of dissident Muslims who practice Islam outside state-controlled institutions.

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