31 October 2017. By Asia Plus.
A court official in Tajikistan says prison sentences have been handed down to two brothers and a nephew of Gulmurod Halimov, a fugitive police colonel who joined the extremist group Islamic State (IS), according to Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service. Halimov’s brothers Komil and Nazir and the nephew, Ali, were convicted of attempting to fight as mercenaries, trying to illegally cross the border, and resisting arrest, the court official told RFE/RL on October 30, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official was not authorized to speak to the media and declined to be identified by name.
The three men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven to 18 years in prison, the official said, without specifying further. According to the court official, the rulings were delivered by a court in the southern Khatlon province last week following trials behind closed doors. The defendants can still appeal, the official said.
Relatives and defence lawyers were not immediately available for comment, and there was no official statement about the matter. Tajik law enforcement officials have said the three men were arrested on July 4 when they were allegedly trying to cross into Afghanistan and join IS fighters there.
They were detained in a police operation that killed four other close relatives of Halimov, including two of his brothers, Tajik authorities say. Halimov’s eldest son, Behrouz, was arrested separately in April and charged with attempting to join a foreign militant group to fight as a mercenary.
Gulmurod Halimov, a former commander of the Tajik police special unit, joined IS in 2015. In August 2016, the U.S. State Department named Halimov as a key member of IS and offered a reward of $3 million for information on his whereabouts. There were several claims that he had been killed in an air strike in Iraq, but Tajik authorities have not been able to confirm the reports.