Uzbek Court Sentences Suspects Involved In Violent Clashes In Sokh Exclave

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FERGHANA, Uzbekistan -- A court in Uzbekistan has handed down verdicts and sentences to 22 people in a high-profile case for their roles in disturbances in the country's volatile Sokh exclave within neighboring Kyrgyzstan last year.

The Ferghana regional court in the country's east sentenced two defendants -- Nazirjon Juraev and Mahsimjon Ahmedov -- to five years in prison on March 18 after finding them guilty of taking part in the disturbances.

The other defendants were handed parole-like "freedom limitation" sentences for terms of between two and five years.

The probe against the defendants was launched after altercations erupted last May between residents of Sokh and Kyrgyzstan's Kadamjai district. Thousands of people were involved in the incidents and several houses were burned down on both sides. In total, 187 Uzbek nationals were hospitalized during the incidents with various injuries, including three people with gunshot wounds.

Kyrgyz authorities said at the time that 25 Kyrgyz nationals had been injured in the clashes, four of whom needed hospitalization due to the severity of their injuries.

The incidents started after locals from the Kyrgyz village of Chechme and residents of the Uzbek village of Chashma argued about the ownership of a spring in the area.

When Ferghana regional Governor Shuhrat Ganiev arrived at the site, he was attacked and pelted with stones.

Many border areas in Central Asia's former Soviet republics have been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the volatile Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan meet.

Last week, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev said after talks in Tashkent with his visiting Kyrgyz counterpart, Sadyr Japarov, that they had agreed to solve all border issues between the two nations "in three months."

Source: Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.