Uzbek Worries About Jailed Sons

APQasym Yusupov's two sons are accused of being terrorists linked to al-Qaida.
YANGI TOLQIN KOLKHOZ, Uzbekistan -- Two of Qasym Yusupov's sons are dead and two are on trial, jailed after a wave of violence earlier this year allegedly carried out by the same group behind last week's suicide bombings targeting the U.S. and Israeli embassies.

Yusupov, who himself spent four months in jail for possession of drugs he said were planted on him after the first attacks, now worries about what will happen to his sons in custody. The trial was abruptly postponed Monday, and human rights activists say some of the 15 suspects -- who have all pleaded guilty at a trial where no evidence has been presented -- were tortured into confessing.

"I'm worried, will they shoot him or kill him?" Yusupov said of his 24-year-old son, Furkat, allegedly a key member of the extremist group behind the attacks this year.

At Uzbekistan's Supreme Court on Monday, Judge Bakhtiyor Jamalov said the trial that opened last week was being put off to an unspecified date due to a defense attorney's illness. It was the first hearing since Friday's attacks, which left seven dead including the three bombers. A fourth police officer died of his wounds Tuesday.

Furkat Yusupov, the first of the defendants to testify at the trial, said last week that he was delivering suicide-bomber belts to would-be attackers when police stopped his car by chance and arrested him March 28.

Yusupov said he traveled in winter 2003 to Pakistan to help establish a training camp, where terrorists were trained on how to bomb buildings and use planes as weapons, as well as how to fight and build detonators. Yusupov said he was treated well in custody, and seemed to be speaking naturally.

But the 64-year-old Yusupov patriarch, Qasym, who was released from prison a week ago, said he heard his sons had been tortured in custody.

Yusupov, who wears the neatly trimmed beard and shaved head of a religious Muslim, shuddered when asked of his own experiences in prison, saying "it's no use" to talk about it. He said his body still ached from long periods spent in all-concrete basements, where the most sensitive suspects are held.

His two youngest sons, Shukhrat and Shakir, both died in the March violence that Uzbek authorities said killed 33 militants, 10 police and four bystanders. The family's middle sons, Furkat and Rakhim, are on trial.

Yusupov's two oldest sons are also jailed for alleged weapons possession but not accused of terrorism.

Their father alleged Kalashnikov bullets and explosives had been planted at their homes. "'If I want, I'll find a tank in your house,"' he said he was told by the plainclothes police who came to arrest him March 29 in this hardscrabble village about 40 kilometers south of Tashkent.

Relatives of the defendants on trial were told to stay away, although Yusupov said his wife went to Tashkent on Monday hoping to attend. He said Furkat had been absent from the home for the last several years and that another son left several months ago claiming he was headed to Russia to work.

"How could I know what they were really doing?" Yusupov said.