Friday, March 31, 2006


A court verdict handing short prison terms to a group of teenagers accused of being involved in the killing of a Tajik girl has sparked public outrage. The father of the slain girl has joined members of the Tajik and Muslim communities and rights advocates in filing a letter of protest to Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials.

MOSCOW, March 31, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The father of Khursheva Sultonova, a 9-year-old Tajik girl murdered in St. Petersburg two years ago, today publicly protested the lenient sentences handed to those responsible for her death.

The St. Petersburg Court yesterday sentenced seven teenagers accused of assaulting Sultonova to prison terms ranging from 18 months to 5 1/2 years.

Murder Charges Thrown Out

On March 22, a jury had convicted the teenagers on charges of hooliganism, which carries a lighter sentence than murder charges.

The father of the victim, Yunus Sultonov, told a press conference in Moscow today that he was shocked by the jury's ruling.

"My family and I are in shock," Sultonov said. "They killed my little girl, and the jury pitied the murderers, [ruling] that it was hooliganism. My daughter can't be brought back, but what will other children do?"

In February 2004, Sultonov, an immigrant worker from Tajikistan, his daughter Khursheva, and his 11-year-old nephew were attacked in St. Petersburg by a group of teenagers armed with baseball bats, chains, and knives.

Khursheva bled to death after being stabbed 11 times. Sultonov was badly beaten but survived, and his nephew managed to escape.

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