Slander Trial Begins Of Tajik Clerics

By RFE/RL's Tajik Service
March 18, 2013

KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- The slander trial of three Tajik Muslim clerics has started in the northern city of Khujand.

Prominent religious and political figure Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda accuses the three clerics of blaming him for igniting Tajikistan’s deadly civil war in 1990s.

The remarks were allegedly made on a televised talk show a year ago.

The moderator of the show is also standing trial.

The clerics told the court on March 18 that they did not recall what they said during the television program.

The next hearing is expected in several days after they watch a video of the program.

Turajonzoda served as "qaziqalon," the highest Muslim authority in Tajikistan, before the civil war broke in 1992.

He was appointed deputy prime minister in the power-sharing government agreed after the war in 1997.