Asia

Gulnara Karimova's son demands her right to defend herself

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Media captionIslam Karimov Junior says his mother has the right to defend herself

The son of Gulnara Karimova, once tipped to be Uzbekistan's leader, has called for his jailed mother to have her day in court.

Ms Karimova, the daughter of former president Islam Karimov, had been missing until last week when authorities confirmed her detention.

She has been ordered imprisoned for five years on corruption charges.

Now her son, Islam Karimov Junior, is calling for her legal right to fight the charges in public.

"Give my mother a right to defend herself," he told the BBC.

"Let her say her version... they're so scared of my mother, not only her voice, her opinion, [but also] the information she has."

He said his mother had been told she only remained alive because of computer files she removed from the country before her disappearance.

"If she comes out for 10 minutes and talks, the downfall of so many people in the government will be guaranteed - and that's what they're scared of," he said.

Who is Gulnara Karimova?

Ms Karimova, 45, was expected to succeed her father as Uzbekistan's leader until she fell out with her family in 2014.

Before then, she held great power and influence in the country, effectively acting as the international face of the nation.

She was once the ambassador to Spain, and held her own business interests - including a fashion label and jewellery collection. She also maintained a high profile through her pop music career, where she went by the stage name "Googoosha".

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Media captionGoogoosha in the video for her single Round Run

However, she found herself at the centre of a number of corruption scandals and investigations. Then, in 2014, pictures emerged of her apparently being detained by security forces amid a deep family feud.

She was not seen in public for years, and when her father, who had been leader of Uzbekistan since the country's formation, died in September 2016, she did not attend the funeral.

In late 2016, rumours began to circulate that she had died in custody or been assassinated.

Those proved to be ill-founded with last week's confirmation that she had been detained since 2015 on corruption charges.

Now, the country's prosecutor has confirmed two corruption cases against her, concerning assets of around $1bn (£760m) in 12 countries, including the UK, Russia, Malta and United Arab Emirates.

She was found guilty in one case, for which a five-year "restriction of liberty order" was imposed. The other case is ongoing.

But her whereabouts remain unknown. Her son, Islam Karimov Junior, previously told the BBC he believed she was under house arrest in a two- or three-room annex to one of her properties.

Now he says she is entitled to the same legal procedure as anyone else.

"If the president is not a coward, if he has any ounce of responsibility before the truth, before the people of this country, why can't he allow my mother access to her lawyers, to her doctors - that's all we're asking."

"We're asking to use the legal system that our country is based on, we're not asking for some extraordinary right."

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