DUSHANBE, March 16, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- The trial Atovullo Raqibov began in a court of Fayzobod district on March 16.  His wife and two his sisters are also in the dock.

Fayzobod resident Atovullo Raqibov faces charges of hooliganism.

Atovullo Raqibov refused public attorney’s services.  At the same time, he lamented for having no money to pay private attorney’s services.  He also asked the judge to organize assize court in the Zarakamar settlement because it is very expensive for him and other defendants to travel 35 kilometers from the settlement to the district administrative center.  “Return trip by fixed-route tax cost 20 somoni for one person and 80 somoni for four persons,” said Raqibov, “It is very expensive for our family.”       

On the first day of the hearing, representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe attended the trial as observers.  

We will recall that Raqibov family was left practically homeless as their house was demolished in July 2009 and only one structure consisting of one room remained, in which Atovullo and his family lived.

As it had been reported earlier, the General-Prosecutor’s Office completed investigation into the case of Atovullo Raqibov on February 2, 2011 and it moved to the Fayzobod district court.

Criminal proceedings have been instituted against Raqibov under the provision of Article 237 (2) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code – hooliganism.  Representative of the Prosecutor-General’s Office says that on September 14, 2010, Atovullo Raqibov prevented activities of the commission that was set up for full demolition of his house.

The case seems to be knotty: the Fayzobod police department has instituted the case following an application by an excavator operator who said that Raqibov allegedly broke the excavator’s glass as token of protest against demolition of his house.

 On January 17, 2011, Atovullo Raqibov and his family gathered outside the Ombudsman’s office in Dushanbe.  He told Asia-Plus on the same day that the house was demolished, though the family had all necessary documents, including the certificate of land use right.  According to him, they went through all instances but failed to find solution to the problem.  “At the end of 2010, we applied to Tajik Ombudsman Zarif Alizoda and he promised to examine the issue,” said Raqibov, “More than a month has passed since that time, but we have not yet received any reply.  That is why my wife, I and our five children have decided to stand outside the Ombudsman’s office until our problem is solved.”

Atovullo Raqibov and his family spent an overnight in Ombudsman’s Office in Dushanbe but failed to meet with the ombudsman.  On January 18, at around 8:00 am, officers from the police department in Dushanbe’s Ismoili Somoni district came.  They promised to help and took them to the police department.  Raqibov and his family spent there a couple of hours and police officers then took them to the Fayzobod police department.

 According to Raqibov, their house was demolished, though they had all necessary documents.  “Local authorities, however, claimed that our residential building did not allegedly comply with the district plan,” said Raqibov, “A cart road leading to six residential buildings behind our house was to run through that area.  There is a roundabout route; it is enough to drive just little more than one hundred meters.  However, they decided that the road must run through our house.  I was in Russia that time to earn money to keep my family; I was forced to return home and I am currently not working for more than a year, because I am forced to visit courts.  All this time, we have stayed with our relatives.”

It is to be noted that the criminal case instituted against Raqibov in September 2010 was then suspended and it was resumed only in January this year when Atovullo Raqibov began haunting officials’ thresholds in Dushanbe in search of truth and justice.