DUSHANBE, May 30, Asia-Plus –  A Tver court of Moscow today began consideration of the issue of lawfulness of keeping Habibullo Nasrulloyev, former head of Tajikistan’s “Tojikmatlubot” (Consumer’s Union), under arrest.

The RIA Novosti news agency cited Nasruloyev’s defense lawyer Anna Stavitskaya as saying that Nasrulloyev has been kept under arrest since August 21 2003 .  Nasrulloyev, Tajik Consumer’s Union head in 1992-1997, was detained in Moscow when Russian prosecutors received a request from Tajik authorities to extradite him.  Nasrulloyev is wanted in Tajikistan on serious charges ranging from murder to treason. 

“On the solution of the issue of extraditing a person to other state the person’s rights are regulated by the criminal-procedural legislation,” Ms Stavitskaya said, noting that the period of detention of person in pre-trial detention facility should not be more than 18 months.  "Under the law, nobody can be kept in pre-trial detention for more than 18 months," said Anna Stavitskaya, "My client has been kept in pre-trial detention longer than that, which is blatant violation."  According to her, the defense has applied to the Prosecutor-General’s Office over this issue but has not yet received reply.   

We will recall that on May 6, the Presnensky court rejected an appeal from Nasrulloyev''s lawyers against an earlier ruling denying refugee status for the ex-official.  Migration services also said that there was no ground for granting him that status.  

Nasrulloyev, who was a member of the People''s Front countering United Tajik Opposition (UTO), and his family left for Uzbekistan after the failed attack on the Sughd province in November 1998.  Nasrulloyev then traveled to meet his son in Russia , where he was arrested.

Ms. Stavitskaya claims the charges against her client are politically motivated.