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Moscow court denies asylum to Tajik ex-minister

MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti) - A Moscow court ruled Saturday to deny refugee status to an ex-trade minister of Tajikistan who is wanted in his homeland on serious charges including murder and treason.

Khabibulo Nasrulloyev, Tajikistan's trade minister in 1992-97, was arrested when Russian prosecutors received a request from their Tajik colleagues to extradite him. The former minister has been held in a pre-trial detention center since July 2003, which his lawyer has protested.

"Under the law, nobody can be kept in pre-trial detention for more than 18 months," Anna Stavitskaya said. "My client has been kept in pre-trial detention longer than that, which is blatant violation."

The Presnensky court rejected Saturday an appeal from Nasrulloyev's lawyers against an earlier ruling denying refugee status for the ex-minister. Migration services also said that there was no ground for granting him that status.

Nasrulloyev, who was a member of the People's Front countering Islamic opposition, and his family left for Uzbekistan after attempts were made on his life. Nasrulloyev then traveled to meet his son in Russia, where he was arrested, Stavitskaya said.

Stavitskaya added the charges against her client were politically motivated.

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