Former Kyrgyz President Again Refuses To Attend Trial

BISHKEK — The trial of former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev for illegally releasing a jailed organized crime boss in 2013 will be held in absentia as the former leader continues to refuse to take part in the process.

Atambaev’s lawyer Sergei Slesarev told reporters that the judge made the ruling on January 9 after his client again left the room when the proceedings began inside the State Committee for National Security (UKMK).

The decision to have the trial at the UKMK headquarters, where Atambaev is being held, was made on December 19 after the former president had declined to attend the trial at the Birinchi Mai district court in Bishkek.

Atambaev’s lawyers have filed a motion protesting the decision to hold the trial out of the court’s premises.

The charge against Atambaev is linked to the release of notorious crime boss Aziz Batukaev, who was convicted of several high-profile crimes — including the murders of a Kyrgyz lawmaker and an Interior Ministry official. Atambaev faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The former leader was arrested on August 8 after he surrendered to police following a deadly two-day standoff between security forces and his supporters.

He is also suspected of committing 13 other crimes, including the organization of murder, the organization of mass disturbances, and taking servicemen hostage during clashes at his residence in August.

Kyrgyzstan saw a smooth and peaceful transfer of power from Atambaev to Sooronbai Jeenbekov, which was welcomed by the international community after presidential changes in 2005 and 2010 were preceded by violent rioting.

Once close allies, relations between Atambaev and Jeenbekov soured after the state prosecutor charged the former president on the basis of accusations leveled against him by a legislature loyal to Jeenbekov.

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