The criminal case on the murder of journalist Alisher Saipov, which was suspended six years ago, was resumed in Kyrgyzstan.
As the brother of the murdered Shokhrukh Saipov told ACCA, this was stated in the response of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX).
“As it turned out, the international organization headquartered in Canada appealed to the prosecution authorities in July of this year in connection with a criminal case concerning the murder of my brother. They were told that the Osh regional prosecutor’s office on August 29, 2019 canceled the investigator’s decision to dismiss the case and resumed the investigation,” said Shokhrukh Saipov.
Recall, the 26-year-old Alisher Saipov was shot dead on October 24, 2007 on Masaliev Street (at that time the street was called Kyrgyzstan) in Osh. The murder occurred two hundred meters from the place where he lived and worked. In the house No.60, there was the editorial office of the newspaper “Politika” [“Siyosat”], and near, on the ground floor, the journalist rented an apartment.
The attack occurred in the evening, at about 19.00. The first shot was in Saipov’s right leg. Then he was shot twice in the head, both bullets passed right through. At the scene of the murder, investigators discovered three 9 mm caliber sleeves from a Makarov pistol.
The journalist died on the spot from his injuries.
At the time of the murder, Ikbol Mirsaitov, a political scientist and former employee of the Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of Kyrgyzstan, was next to Alisher Saipov. The killers did not touch him.
A criminal case was opened on the fact of the murder of the journalist and created an investigative-operational group, which included police officers and the National Security Committee. The then President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Kurmanbek Bakiev, took the investigation under his control, saying that “on the eve of the parliamentary elections, he will not allow criminals to rattle their sabre and intimidate ordinary citizens and the population, especially journalists”.
However, the true killers of the journalist have not been found so far.
In 2009, Abdufarid Rasulov, a resident of Leilek district of Batken region, was detained on suspicion of the killing of Saipov. He was sentenced to 20 years, but two years later, Rasulov’s relatives were able to prove that he did not commit the murder. They provided the investigation with a videotape confirming that the convict was in another city at the time of the crime; he was at the holiday with relatives. Rasulov was acquitted.
On April 4, 2009, the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan, taking into account new circumstances, sent the murder case of Alisher Saipov to the Osh city court for a new trial. Since that day, as the relatives of the murdered person stated, not a single investigative measure was conducted in the framework of this criminal case.
“We are pleased to have resumed the case of Alisher’s murder. Since that fateful day everyone has been interested in one question “Who killed?” And to this question, unfortunately, we still have no answer. We understand that it is impossible to detain the killer who shot my brother. It is obvious that he was fulfilling someone’s order, and it is quite possible that he is no longer alive. But, we expect that the current leadership of the country will at least give an assessment of the murder of Alisher. Unfortunately, this has not happened so far. None of the three presidents, that were before Sooronbay Jeenbekov, had enough political will to make such a statement,” Shokhrukh Saipov said in the interview with ACCA.
He also stated that the family of the victim demands that the investigation interrogates the only murder witness, Ikbol Mirsaitov.
“He is hiding from our family. We want to see him, at least during the confrontation. After 12 years, Mirsaitov avoids us, does not want to tell even us, Alisher’s relatives, what happened that evening, what he saw and knows. All my efforts to meet him are vain,” Saipov explained.
According to him, Mirsaitov was only once in court. He did not give evidence that would clarify the situation, answering all questions “I don’t remember.”
The cause of the violent death of Alisher Saipov, according to his relatives, was the journalist professional activity.
It should be noted that Alisher Saipov did not have problems with the Kyrgyz authorities. He collaborated with Voice of Ameriсa, RFE / RL-Ozodlik, BBC, Mashhad and the news agency Ferghana.ru. Shortly before his death, he began to publish the newspaper “Politika” [“Siyosat”], specializing mainly in issues of the Uzbek population’s interests. The publication was especially popular in neighboring Uzbekistan, where it entered illegally.
In addition, Alisher Saipov became famous for covering Andijan events in May 2005 and was one of the few Central Asian journalists who met with Taliban militants after the overthrow of their regime in Afghanistan.
According to his friends and colleagues, in the official publications of neighboring Uzbekistan, the journalist was called the “enemy of Uzbek people” and was accused of having links with Islamic radicals, in particular from the movement “Hizbut-Tahrir”. The journalist never considered himself an Islamite, and considered contacts with leaders of various movements as part of his professional work
In September 2007, the publication Gazeta.uz, which was considered close to the government of Uzbekistan, accused the correspondent of Ferghana.ru that from the city of Osh “insults, abuse, sometimes frankly false accusations fly to Uzbekistan”.
“We consider Alisher a victim of the then regime of Uzbekistan headed by Islam Karimov. This was a contracted political assassination, as my brother received death warning and threats from the Uzbek special services several times. About two months ago, there was even a report on Namangan television about Alisher and the publication “Siyosat”, where they showed the newspaper’s number and, naturally, said that he was an enemy of Uzbek people. My brother dreamed of real democracy in Central Asia, so that people could express their opinion without fear, so there was no pressure on religious people. He believed that there would come times when the border can be crossed calmly, there would be no corruption, and the state would create its citizens all the conditions for a normal life, as in developed countries. Unfortunately, a lot has not come true,” Shokhrukh Saipov says.