Suspect in Tajik dissident’s murder in Istanbul accuses bodyguard
Fırat Alkaç ISTANBULThe main suspect in the murder of Tajik opposition leader Umarali Kuvatov has accused the victim’s bodyguard in his testimony, daily Hürriyet has learned.
Kuvatov, the leader of the Group 24 opposition movement in Tajikistan, was killed in a gun attack while walking in an Istanbul street late on March 5.
As the main suspect, police had detained the 34-year-old Tajik citizen Süleyman Qayumov, who came to Istanbul just two weeks ago.
According to the initial police findings, Qayumov attempted to poison Kuvatov’s food but was unable to succeed on March 5, before ultimately ordering a hitman to shoot him in the street.
The suspect has rejected all accusations in his 12-page testimony.
“It was not me. It was his bodyguard who poisoned Kuvatov. I did not witness the moment of the murder. A person who found me after the murder told me to run away, so I took the first flight to Almaty, but the Kazakh police denied me entry and sent me back to Turkey,” Qayumov reportedly stated.
Suhzob Tuzraev, the bodyguard of Kuvatov, rejected the claim and was released.
As Qayumov was arrested for being a member of a criminal organization and committing a premeditated murder, the police continued efforts to find the hitman, who had fled the crime scene.
Before his death, Kuvatov had claimed that Tajik President Emomalii Rahmon wanted him dead due to his knowledge of the leader’s “secret dealings,” which he learned when he was a business partner of Rahman’s son-in-law. He had asked the Turkish authorities to not deport him and to instead provide him with a bodyguard.