Criminal investigators from Uzbekistan call abroad to a person wanted in Uzbekistan and threaten with arrest by the Interpol.
Under the pretext of closing the criminal cases they extort property of the accused and require expensive gifts of them. A citizen of Uzbekistan Muhabbat Pozilova who resides in Norway has been receiving this kind of calls for a year.
An Uzbek citizen, Muhabbat Pozilova has been living in Norway for the last two years, where she applied for an international protection. She was born and raised in Uzbekistan. She has four children. Before having to emigrate, she actively engaged in entrepreneurial activity.
The case of Muhabbat Pozilova is worth being noted by the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway. Throughout the year, she receives threats over the phone by agents of the Uzbek law enforcement authorities.
- About illegal activities of the agents of Ministry of Internal Affairs
Since July 2011 criminal investigator of Uzbekistan Nizom Ishmuradov has been calling to the Norwegian mobile phone of Muhabbat Pozilova from an Uzbek phone numbers + 998 712 966 072 (landline) + 998 971 196 166 (mobile) of the telecom operator MTS-Uzbekistan, issued to the Department of the Interior of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Uzbekistan. We have attached one of the audio recordings of such telephone conversations and the transcript of the same to this press release. http://www.youtube.com/user/AssoHRCA?feature=watch.
According to Muhabbat Pozilova the investigator Ishmuradov repeatedly threatened her over the phone with arrest by the Interpol and forced her to settlement agreement with the "competitors". In the event if she fulfils this requirement, he promises to close the criminal case against her on the basis of the last act of amnesty. Muhabbat Pozilova was able to record the threats made by Ishmuradov and kept the dates and time of his other calls. During this period there were at least 15 calls and one sms-message, in which he writes: "... where is the Application IPhonechi ." As Muhabbat Pozilova explains, Ishmuradov is extorting a new expensive internet device IPhone from her.
According to Articles 5-8 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Uzbekistan, the investigators, judges and prosecutors should contact the Attorney General to conduct proceedings abroad. Only the office of the Attorney General has the right to appeal to the appropriate agency of the country where the suspect or criminal is residing. However, criminal investigator of Uzbekistan Nizom Ishmuradov and the investigator of Hamza District Offices of Internal Affairs of Tashkent Bakhtiyor Erkabaev, acting in violation of the criminal procedural rules, harmed the legitimate interests of Ms Pozilova and also violated the following provisions of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan:
- Article 214 (extortion and remuneration), punishable by three year in prison;
- Article 235 ?oercion to giving testimony, that is mental or physical pressure on a suspect, accused, witness, victim, or examiner by threats, striking, beating, tormenting, causing of suffering, inflicting of trivial or medium bodily injury or other illegal acts committed by an inquiry officer, investigator, or prosecutor with the purpose to coerce to giving testimony – shall be punished with arrest up to six months or imprisonment up to five years. In case of Ms Pozilova, her relatives were threatened and under pressure from the agents of the law informant authorities had to give the information about her whereabouts, and Ms Pozilova herself was forced to give up her property to the third party;
- Article 239 (disclosure of Information of Inquiry or Pretrial Investigation), punishable by three year in prison.
- Reasons for leaving the country
From 2005 to 2007 Ms Pozilova owned a company called "Eskado Service" and was an official dealer of the Volgograd Plant "Severstal-Enamel" (Russia), which is a producer of enamel and non-stick cookware. This company had to close under the pressure and extortion by its competitors. When she refused to pay the extortionists a share of her profits she was summoned to the offices of the Customs and Tax Committee of Uzbekistan. In the offices of these agencies it was made clear to her that all the dealers of foreign companies are controlled by Gulnara Karimova, a daughter of Uzbek leader Islam Karimov. An agent of the Customs Committee told her directly that in order to avoid problems she should close the company "Eskado Service." Soon the dealership agreement with the Volgograd partner was prematurely terminated and transferred to its competitors.
Ms Pozilova decided to change the sphere of her business and in 2008 she opened a shop «Kalizion Fashion» located in the centre of Tashkent near Alai market. Pozilova paid her taxes and transferred a share of her profits to the poor in a mosque. And once again she was approached by "important" people and they began to establish a new order in her company. They illegally seized goods from the warehouse of the store «Kalizion Fashion» and began to foretell problems. According to Ms Pozilova, in 2008 raids and a takeover by the people trusted by Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the head of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov took place.
Respondents of the Association confirmed that the shop «Kalizion Fashion» is owned by Ms Pozilova, but declined to name the extortionists. They believe that it will affect their safety. When Muhabbat Pozilova refused to "voluntarily" give up the store «Kalizion Fashion» the extortionists started a criminal case against her under Article 168 ("Fraud") of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan.
Fearing reprisals, most people around Pozilova did not support her. Unlike many, Umid Hodzhimatov, a colleague went to the extortionists and challenged them. After which he was accused of fraud and sentenced to five years and six months.
Muhabbat Pozilova managed to flee the country still having legal ownership of the store «Kalizion Fashion». The authorities announced her wanted under the case number 10/11717.
Ms Pozilova’s parents had several visits at their home by the criminal investigator of Uzbekistan Nizom Ishmuradov and investigator of the Hamza District Department of Internal Affairs of Tashkent Bakhtiyor Erkabaev. They rudely demanded from the children and the father of Muhabbat information about her whereabouts and her telephone number. Thus law enforcement agencies obtained the mobile number of Muhabbat Pozilova in Norway. The worries for her daughter and grandchildren have provoked her father to have a heart attack, which resulted in his death on 22 July 2011. This fact is confirmed by the death certificate of Alijon Akbarov.
The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia has been more often receiving applications from Uzbek entrepreneurs faced with extortions. The extortionists are given cover and protection by the law enforcement agencies. It is significant that none of the victims could stand by his right to property. Once they began to resist the pressure of extortion a criminal case was started against them, with all the ensuing consequences. Even in exile, they do not feel secure and their relatives living in Uzbekistan suffer in their absence.
* * *
The application of the citizen of Uzbekistan Muhabbat Pozilova and her documents confirming the information about the existence of the threat stated in her application were sent to the Prosecutor General of Norway and to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a request to provide Muhabbat Pozilova with security in accordance with its obligations under international agreements on human rights. At the same time we sent a special report to the Central Office of the Interpol, to the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture requesting to draw attention of the Official Representative of Uzbekistan to the United Nations to the illegal actions of law enforcement authorities of Uzbekistan.
For a year an agent of the Department of Criminal Investigation of Khamza district of Tashkent Nizom Eshmuradov has been terrorising with his phone calls a citizen of Uzbekistan Muhabbat Pazilovu temporarily living in Norway. Eshmuradov threatened Pazilova to arrest her, to declare her wanted by Interpol and has been extorting an Apple iPhone from Pazilova.
The Association "Human Rights in Central Asia," managed to get a list of phone calls from made by Nizom Eshmuradov from the phone numbers +9989712966072 and +998971196166 belonging to Khamza district police department of the city of Tashkent. Ownership of these numbers was also confirmed by our sources in Uzbekistan. We know for certain that a member of the Criminal Investigation Department Nizom Eshmuradov phoned Muhabbat Pozilova with threats on following dates:
- 24.10.2012 07:18
- 04.04.2012 16:03
- 04.04.2012 16:02
- 03/15/2012 13:28
- 04.03.2012 15:04
- 03.03 2012 15:03
- 10.02.2012 11:47
- 10.02.2012 11:31.
We have the audio recording of one of these phone calls from Nizom Eshmuradov to Muhabbat Pozilova made on 4 June 2012. The call was made at 16:48:49. The call duration is 4 minutes 19 seconds. The original records in the Uzbek language can be listened to here http://www.youtube.com/user/AssoHRCA?feature=watch;
- The following is the translated transcript of the phone call
Nizom: Hello, Muhabbat? How are you? What's new?
Muhabbat: Thank you, and yourself?
Nizom: You make us miss you. Will you come?
Muhabbat: You missed me? It is easy for you to say.
Nizom : Yes.
Muhabbat: As soon as I heard the news, I have been troubled very much.
Nizom: That is what we have in hand.
Muhabbat: Last time on the phone you said you wanted to declare me wanted?
Nizom: No, I have not declared you wanted yet, I am still working on it!
Muhabbat: If I do not come, you get me on the wanted list?
Nizom : [laughs - Ed.]
Muhabbat: Nizom, and where do you call me from, Khamza police department?
Nizom: Hmm ... from Khamza police department.
Muhabbat: From the Department of Investigation?
Nizom: And something else happened?
Muhabbat: Tell me this, Alina told you that I did not take the money? Or they both insist that I took the money?
Nizom: They both said that you took the money, they want to make you guilty, but they know that you are not.
Muhabbat: What did they say? I took the money or I did not take it?
Nizom: No, they said that you took [the money - Ed.], they made you a scapegoat.
Muhabbat: Who exactly said - those two girls or Alina, or all the girls at Alina’s house?
Nizom: The other girls said you took [the money - Ed.], But Zulya says you are not to blame.
Muhabbat: Hmm ... clearly, this is Alina.
Nizom: Alina was not summoned, and she did not come.
Muhabbat: And because of that, you want me on the wanted list?
Nizom : Yes.
Muhabbat: For what? I did not take the money!
Nizom: Because you have to come and you have to prove your innocence. If you do not show up, it means you agree with the prosecution. And if you come, you will be able to justify it yourself.
Muhabbat: If you declared me wanted, what then?
Nizom: It will very bad!
Muhabbat: And what will be bad?
Nizom: I will get approval for your arrest and shut you right there!
Muhabbat: What will you do? How do you get a warrant?
Nizom: Will get you imprisoned where you are now. And shall give the information to Interpol, then they will arrest you immediately shut down for a week or a month.
Muhabbat: Here? [In Norway - Ed.]
Nizom: Yes, there! As soon as you are shut down, your career is over. Interpol will send you from one prison to another, and for a year you will done by the Interpol. To avoid this, contact Zuhriddin [he is speaking of the investigator of Khamza district police department, who called Muhabbat Pozilova for questioning when she was in Tashkent. - Ed.]. He asked that you contacted him.
Muhabbat: Under what article am I being accused?
Nizom : You?
Nizom: Article 168 part 3 ["Fraud on a large scale" - the title of the Article in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan - Ed.]. It turns out that you have sent a letter asking for amnesty? I also gave it to the prosecutor. I was told that, since you have the third part of Article 168, you have to be here in person.
Muhabbat: I told you about a man, he had come, but he has not said anything yet. If he does not answer, I may not be able to return.
Nizom: If you do not come voluntarily, I will file your name as wanted by the Interpol. The Interpol will put you [in prison], and then deport you to Uzbekistan, from prison in Uzbekistan, you will not come out ever. I shall run you down this way! For a while Zuhriddin has been asking for me to do you a favour.
Muhabbat: The man I have been telling you about has arrived. I need to ask for his advice. I'll tell you later.
Nizom: Come on, come on! Only be quick about it [ironically - Ed.].
Muhabbat: Okay. All right.
Explanatory Note. The translation from Uzbek is prepared by the Association "Human Rights in Central Asia." In Uzbek Nizom spoke using the jargon of the criminal world, and many of the phrases he uses are threats against Muhabbat.