This article originally appeared in the European Voice on 24 November 2005.
Uzbekistan Interior Minister Zakirjon Almatov is currently on an extended visit to Germany. Nothing strange or particularly newsworthy about that, you might think - until you realise that Almatov has been declared persona non grata by the EU. He is officially prohibited from visiting the EU, and yet, he is here all the same.
On 14 November, the Council issued travel bans on 12 Uzbek officials "directly responsible for the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force" in the massacre of hundreds of unarmed protesters in the east Uzbekistan city of Andijan on 13 May, 2005. The name Zakirjon Almatov tops the EU's travel blacklist.
The German Foreign Ministry defends its decision to allow Almatov to stay in the country despite the visa ban against him, saying it is acting "on humanitarian grounds", because he is receiving medical treatment at a clinic in Hanover. That must seem a cruel joke to the victims of the Andijan massacre. They know Almatov as "The Butcher of Andijan", a man who showed little humanity as he told protesters there would be no negotiations just before government troops started firing into the crowd.