Suspect in Uzbek imam shooting extradited to Sweden

AP News
Posted: Aug 26, 2015 6:36 AM

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — An Uzbek man suspected of the 2012 attempted murder of an imam, who fled Uzbekistan after criticizing the country's government, has been extradited to the Scandinavian country, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

The suspected gunman was arrested in Moscow in January on an international arrest warrant, prosecutor Krister Petersson said.

The suspect, who wasn't named in line with Swedish privacy rules, arrived on Tuesday evening in Sweden, Petersson said.

"Shortly after the shooting, we identified a suspect and he was sought after internationally," he told The Associated Press. "I believe that within a couple of months, we will be ready with charges against him."

The imam, Obid-kori Nazarov — also known as Obidkhon Sobitkhon — had been criticizing the Uzbek regime, and got asylum in Sweden in 2006 after fleeing his native country in 1998. Uzbek authorities accused him of forming a terror organization after he criticized steps the government took in the late 1990s to tighten control over Muslim institutions.

In 2012, he was shot in the head in Stromsund, a northern Swedish town, in an attack described as politically motivated. Nazarov, 57, survived the shooting but suffers from brain damage and spent two years in a coma, Petersson said.

An Uzbek couple living in Sweden had been accused of helping the suspected gunman by lodging him in their southern Sweden home and assisting him in locating the victim. However, a Swedish court said there wasn't enough evidence linking the defendants to the shooting.

Human rights advocates have claimed the attack on the imam was politically motivated, saying that thousands of Muslims have been convicted and jailed in Uzbekistan on what they say are trumped up charges of forming terror groups and plotting to establish an Islamic state in the Central Asian country.