Man gets 18 years in jail for shooting Uzbek imam

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Swedish court sentenced an Uzbekistan national to 18 years in jail on Tuesday after finding him guilty of the 2012 attempted murder of an imam who was critical of the Uzbek regime.

The Ostersund District Court said Yuri Yukovsky should be expelled after serving his time in Sweden.

The court didn't identify anyone for ordering the murder but said technical evidence showed the 37-year-old man "acted on behalf of someone in Russia."

"Everything indicates that he was on assignment for someone. There was clearly a connection to someone in Russia," Judge Goran Ingebrand said. Yukovsky made and sent at least 34 phone calls and text messages to a number in Russia on the day Nazarov was shot, the judge noted.

Yukovsky was extradited to Sweden in August from Moscow where he was detained on an international arrest warrant. He had confessed tracking Nazarov's whereabouts in Sweden but has denied the shooting. His DNA was found on a rucksack and a rented car linked with the shooting.

Nazarov had been criticizing the Uzbek regime, and got asylum in Sweden in 2006. In 2012, he was shot in the back of the head with a revolver equipped with a silencer in Stromsund, a northern Swedish town, in an attack described as politically motivated. Nazarov now suffers from brain damage.

Uzbek authorities had accused him of forming a terror organization after he criticized government steps in the late 1990s to tighten control over Muslim institutions.

Human rights groups have said thousands of Muslims have been convicted and jailed in the Central Asian country on what they say are trumped-up charges of forming terror groups and plotting to establish an Islamic state.

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