Ilhom Ibodov (right), who died in custody on 13 September 2015, and his brother Rahim Ibodov (left), who was subjected to torture by officers of the Uzbekistani police and National Security Services and is currently serving an eight-year prison term.
Brothers Rahim and Ilhom Ibodov were businessmen running a car accessories business in Bukhara, central Uzbekistan. In recent years officials of the local National Security Services and others reportedly extorted bribes from the brothers in exchange for letting them run their business, an arrangement that is reportedly common in the business sector of Uzbekistan. When the brothers fell out with these officials over the financial arrangements and threatened to expose them, they were arrested on 16 August 2015 and accused of financial crimes.
Rahim and Ilhom Ibodov were held in a temporary detention centre (IVS) at the Bukhara City Department of Internal Affairs for 25 days and were not allowed to speak to a lawyer for three weeks. During this time four fellow inmates beat the brothers every day and told them that they were acting on official orders in order to force them to provide false testimony. On 12 September, two days after being transferred to an SNB pre-trial investigation facility (SIZO), Rahim reportedly saw how his brother was beaten to death by three high-ranking SNB officers in the cell opposite. Ilhom’s body was returned to his family on 13 September for burial. They took photos and videos documenting injuries all over his body. On 11 November 2015 the family was given a death certificate stating that Ilhom had died of a heart attack. On 15 February 2016 Bukhara City Court sentenced Rahim to eight years‘ imprisonment based on evidence allegedly extracted under duress. The authorities failed to conduct an effective investigation into the the circumstances of his death and allegations that the brothers were severely beaten. Ilhom and Rahim’s relatives have been repeatedly threatened with reprisals for speaking out about the case.
Support Ilhom and Rahim‘s family in their efforts to find out the truth and obtain justice by sending an email to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Justice for Ilhom and Rahim Ibodov“ copying the following text:
There are allegations that Ilhom and Rahim Ibodov were severely beaten while in detention facilities under the Bukhara City Department of Internal Affairs and the Bukhara City National Security Services. On 12 September 2015 Ilhom was reportedly beaten so severely by three SNB officers that he later died from his injuries. Despite hearing allegations of torture on 15 February 2016 Bukhara City Court sentenced Rahim to eight years‘ imprisonment based on evidence allegedly extracted under duress.
We call on you to do all within your remit to ensure that a thorough, impartial and independent investigation is conducted into the circumstances of Ilhom Ibodov’s death and into the torture of Rahim Ibodov. In addition, Rahim Ibodov’s criminal case should be reviewed in a fair trial and all evidence obtained under duress should be excluded. We ask the Uzbekistani authorities to take all measures to ensure that the Rahim Ibodov and his family are protected from reprisals.
On 16 August 2015 Ilhom and Rahim Ibodov were detained by security officials in Bukhara in relation to charges of violating trade laws and illegally trading foreign currency, of illegally travelling to Mecca on a pilgrimage and of forcing ten Russian citizens to work for them. Ilhom and Rahim were held in a detention facility of the Bukhara Department of Internal Affairs for 25 days and were told on the first day that if they signed a confession they would be released quickly. Both brothers reportedly signed confessions without reading them. However, they were reportedly subjected to further torture and ill-treatment including beatings by four “lokhmachi’” (detainees used by police and SNB officers to carry out torture in pre-trial detention) in order to force them to give further details to substantiate their false confessions.
An initial remand hearing took place on 26 August, and another on 12 September 2015 at Bukhara City Court. Ilhom and Rahim’s family were reportedly not informed about the first remand hearing but at the second they noticed that Ilhom could barely walk into the courtroom and had to be supported by two officials, his head lolling onto one of their shoulders. The judge did not allow the relatives into the courtroom. On 10 September Rahim and Ilhom were transferred to the Bukhara pre-trial detention centre (SIZO) under the National Security Service (SNB). In the cellar of the SIZO, Rahim, who was being held in a cell opposite his brother’s, reportedly saw three high-ranking SNB officers beat Ilhom as he lay on the floor. During the beating one of the officials reportedly held Ilhom while another put his foot on his chest and told him “If we kill you no one will ever ask us the reason why.” Then they began to beat him again. Ilhom had already lost consciousness. Rahim Ibodov asked the doctor of the SIZO who was present to provide Ilhom with medical assistance but she allegedly refused, telling him “I’ll help him once he’s dead”. Ilhom died on 13 September 2015.
On 13 September his body was given to his relatives who buried him on 14 September. Only on 11 November 2015 was Ilhom’s family given a death certificate stating that he had died from a heart attack. Photographic and video images of Ilhom Ibodov’s body taken by the family show bruising as well as bleeding on the nails of the hands and feet.
Ilhom and Rahim’s mother, Khursand Radzhaba has lodged numerous complaints with the Uzbekistani authorities about the treatment of her sons but they have failed to launch a thorough and impartial investigation into the torture and death in custody and family members have been repeatedly threatened with reprisals for speaking out about the case.
On 15 February 2016 Bukhara City Criminal Court sentenced Rahim Ibodov to eight years in prison after finding him guilty of illegal purchase or sale of foreign currency (Article 177 part 3 items "a", "b" of the Uzbekistani Criminal Code), tax avoidance (Article 184 part 3), violating trade regulations (Article 189) and money laundering (Article 243). Rahim Ibodov partially admitted violating Article 189 for accounting discrepancies.
Rahim Ibodov told the court that he had signed confessions without reading them and that he and his brother had been subjected to torture by SNB officers but the judge reportedly told Rahim that he should say nothing about the torture. Reportedly no proof of the brothers’ guilt was presented to the court and the prosecution case relied on testimony obtained under torture from the deceased Ilhom Ibodov and other prosecution witnesses who were not present in court.
In March 2016 Rahim Ibodov’s lawyer appealed the eight-year sentence on the grounds that the court of first instance had not taken into account the violations of the criminal procedural regulations and the allegations of torture. Nevertheless the appeal court left the first sentence in force. The court also failed to take into account the regular death threats received by Rahim Ibodov from SNB officers while he was in detention.
Rahim Ibodov is currently serving his sentence in prison colony UA 64/3 in the village of Tavaksai in the Bostanliq district of Tashkent region.