With the death of a leading human rights activist in prison last week, Turkmenistan has left no doubt that the widely derided personality cult of the country's President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov and his iron-handed tactics are anything but a laughing matter.
Family members identified the body of Ogulspur Muradova, who died only three weeks after being sentenced in a widely condemned trial. Authorities initially denied Muradova's family access to the body while insisting they sign off on a death certificate. Access was granted only after the family sought out the help of foreign diplomats.
After viewing the corpse, family members reported seeing a wound on Muradova's forehead and bruising around her neck.