Freedom House Report: Uzbek Prisoner Died of Natural Causes

by Laurence on 1/22/2005 · 1 comment

Strange this story hasn’t gotten more play in the media. It shows that Uzbekistan is cooperating with American human rights efforts, and that some claims against the government may not be true. Worth reading the report on the Freedom House website. Here are some excerpts:

NEW YORK, January 20, 2005 — Freedom House reported today on the results of an Uzbekistan government investigation into the cause of the death in custody of a prisoner on January 2.

Based on forensic records and information made available by Uzbek authorities, an independent observation team of international forensic and legal experts agreed that the prisoner, Samandar Umarov, 35, died of natural causes.

However, the inability to conduct a second autopsy precluded definitively and independently ruling out any evidence of antecedent trauma. His relatives had earlier reported that his body had showed signs of torture.

Freedom House facilitated the deployment of the team, which included Dr. Ronald Suarez, a forensic pathologist and chief medical examiner of Morris County, New Jersey, Drago Kos, a criminal investigator from Slovenia and chairman of the Anti-corruption Commission of the Council of Europe, and two Uzbek human rights defenders, Mr. Abdusalom Ergashev, a specialist on religious rights, and Mr. Vakhid Karimov, a medical doctor.

The Uzbek government provided the team with access to what was represented as forensic and medical records and to the medical examiners that performed the autopsy on Mr. Umarov. The team also conducted interviews with relevant medical, legal, and prison personnel, prison inmates, and members of Mr. Umarov’s family.

“Freedom House welcomes the government of Uzbekistan’s cooperation with the international team’s investigation of Mr. Umarov’s death, especially its willingness to include Uzbek human rights defenders in the process,” said Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor.

According to Dr. Suarez, the autopsy report and medical records provided by Uzbek authorities were consistent with the officially announced cause of death, identified as spontaneous cerebral hemorrhage, or stroke. Medical records indicate Mr. Umarov had two major hospitalizations for heart-related problems, and had in addition, multiple doctor visits for the same problems. Forensic findings from the autopsy of Mr. Umarov’s body, including those independently verified by Dr. Suarez, appear consistent with Mr. Umarov’s pre-existing medical conditions, which included hypertension.

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{ 1 comment }

TM Lutas January 24, 2005 at 8:53 am

They’re not where they should be yet, nowhere near. They are taking a few steps down the right road though, and for that, I’m thankful. I hope they keep taking those few steps as fast as they can.

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