Radio Liberty says a well-connected woman in Dushanbe is facing up to 15 years in prison for the attempted murder of her husband’s alleged second wife in a case being closely watched by Tajiks. 

Aziza Davlatova was arrested earlier this month along with her husband, Lutfullo Davlatov, who is charged with “torture,” punishable by up to seven years in jail if found guilty in the August 25 attack. 

The initial decision to close the case backfired after women’s rights activists took to social media to demand justice for the victim, 32-year-old Madina Muhammadjonova.  They shared photos showing the victim’s horrific injuries and demanded answers from officials.

Lutfullo Davlatov, 47, works as a manager at one of the city branches of MegaFon, a major mobile phone operator in Tajikistan. 

Lutfullo Davlatov’s family is said to have high-placed political connections through his father, Davlatali Davlatzoda, the former first deputy chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan (PDPT).  He has held many other high-profile posts in Emomali Rahmon’s government.

Madina Muhammadjonova worked as an accountant at the same MegaFon branch until the summer when Lutfullo Davlatov fired her -- allegedly under pressure from his wife.

On August 25, Muhammadjonova was allegedly attacked by Aziza Davlatova, who accused the victim of having a romantic relationship with her husband for more than two years.

Madina was admitted to hospital on August 26 “unconscious, with grave injuries” and apparent signs of strangulation.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, two doctors at the Shifobakhsh medical facility told Radio Liberty that Muhammadjonova suffered from brain damage due to a lack of oxygen as the result of strangulation. The medics said they “don’t know” if she will ever fully recover.”

Davlatali Davlatzoda, 74, told RFE/RL that it was “jealousy” that drove his daughter-in-law to assault the other woman and that she must be held accountable.  “However, I don’t know what my son is being accused of,” Davlatzoda said. “He was in Dushanbe at the time of the assault, which occurred outside the city.”

It remains unclear if there are other suspects in the case, RFE/RL says.

Outraged Dushanbe residents signed an open letter about the case to President Emomali Rahmon and Dushanbe Mayor Rustam Emomali, who is also Chairman of the Majlisi Milli (Tajikistan’s upper chamber of parliament).  

Rustam Emomali ordered a new probe that saw the couple being arrested and formally charged.  Two high-ranked officers from the city’s police and prosecutors’ office – district police chief Zafar Ismoilzoda and deputy district prosecutor Suhrob Salimzoda -- were also dismissed from their posts for allegedly for mishandling the case.