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Trial starts for 15 Uzbek men accused in Andijan uprising

[JURIST] The trial of 15 Uzbek men [JURIST report], accused of organizing the May 2005 Andijan uprising [HRW backgrounder] which led to government troops killing as many as 500 protestors [JURIST report] began Tuesday, but human rights groups are questioning the credibility of the proceedings. The 15 men sat in a metal cage in Uzbekistan's Supreme Court, as the charges, which include terrorism, hostage-taking, murder and attempted coup, were read to them. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has continuously accused the Uzbek government of a cover-up [JURIST report] and said the government was trying to deny responsibility and silence witnesses. There are more than 100 people facing trial with the risk of a death sentence, according to Amnesty International [advocacy website]. The May rebellion started when armed supporters of imprisoned religious extremists took them out of jail, took police hostages and then seized a government building, killing anti-government protesters. Human Rights Watch said that police and secret services obtained confessions from Andijan residents of belonging to militant organizations while bearing arms during the protest. This prompted the group to suggest that the US and European Union should impose an arms embargo in Uzbekistan as well as a visa ban on senior government officials. There has been resistance by the Uzbek government to a full international inquiry [JURIST report] for an investigation when earlier this year, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an independent probe [press release; JURIST report] into the killings. Recently, the UN evacuated 11 Uzbek refugees to London [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

11:55 AM ET - The fifteen defendants pleaded guilty Tuesday to all charges against them. BBC News has more.

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