DUSHANBE, March 15, 2011, Asia-Plus -- A court in Dushanbe’s Sino district has postponed a libel lawsuit by three judges against three Dushanbe independent newspapers Ozodagon , Farazh , and Asia-Plus for the third time.

As it had been reported earlier, the court resumed hearing over the lawsuit on March 4 but since the plaintiffs and lawyer Solehjon Jourayev who is the main defendant in the trial did not attend the hearing, Judge A. Safoyev who presides over the trial adjourned it until March 14.

The plaintiffs and lawyer Jourayev did not appear before the court on March 14 as well and the judge adjourned the hearing yesterday until March 17.

According to Safoyev, the plaintiffs did not appear for the hearing for health reason.  “As far as lawyer Jourayev is concerned, he did not come for unknown reason,” the judge said.

We will recall that three judges from the Tajik Supreme Court and a Dushanbe court filed lawsuits against Ozodagon , Farazh , and Asia-Plus on January 29, 2010.  The judges said the printed quotations in their most recent editions from a press conference in which a lawyer accused the judges of issuing unfair punishments.

In early January 2010, lawyer Solehjon Jourayev invited journalists to a press conference at which he said Judges Nour Nourov, and Ulughbek Mahmadshoyev from the Supreme Court and Judge Fakhriddin Dodometov from the Dushanbe City Court had sentenced a group of 33 businessmen from the northern city of Isfara to long prison sentences despite weak evidence of their crimes.

The judges said on January 29, 2010 the newspapers did not ask them to comment and printed biased statements that have no basis.  They asked for 5.5 million somoni ($1.26 million) as compensation for the moral damage caused by the comments in the articles.

Judge Mahmadshoyev said he filed the lawsuit as a private citizen because he thinks the newspapers ignored the media law.

In the meantime, Judge Safoyev on March 4 acquainted representatives of the newspapers with the results of examination of articles published by them in January 2010.  The examination was conducted by researchers from the Institute of the Tajik Language and Literature of the Academy of Sciences.

According to the examination findings, there are slanderous statements in a complaint by lawyer Solehjon Jourayev against the judges from the Supreme Court.  “The examination does not note that the newspapers printed slanderous statements against the judges,” the Asia-Plus editor Marat Mamadshoyev said.