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Tajikistan31 August 2005

Editor sentenced to hand over 20% of his income to the state for two years

Reporters Without Borders condemned a sentence against newspaper editor Moukhtor Bokizoda, of the independent weekly Nerui Sukhan, ordering him to pay 20% of his earnings to the state for a period of two years.

The sentence was imposed by the Duchanbe regional court on 25 August 2005 after Bokizoda was convicted of "theft".

The editor was accused of using electricity without paying for it by illegally connecting a printers owned by the Foundation for the Memory and Protection of Journalists which he heads to the state electricity network.

"We object to this sentence that forces the journalist to live in a precarious financial state for two years", said the international press freedom organisation.

Bokizoda was also sentenced to pay debts amounting to 500 dollars, of which he said he had already paid 300 dollars. "These repayments are legitimate. This is not the case for the first penalty which has much more to do with the harassment of an independent journalist," said the organisation.

Nerui Sukhan, which was launched in January 2003, quickly established itself as a top-selling paper in Tajikistan for its critical stance towards the government. It has not been published since June however, since the authorities have banned printers from working with Nerui Sukhan, officially for tax reasons.

Bokizoda himself said he believed his conviction was linked to his journalistic work. He added that he plans to appeal.

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