Kyrgyz courts acquit nationalists amid threats of more unrest

By bne IntelliNews June 18, 2013

bne -

Two Bishkek courts have acquitted the leaders of the Ata-Zhurt party on charges of attempting to overthrow the government. There are hopes that the release of the three former MPs will help to calm tensions in Kyrgyzstan.

The release of the three Ata-Zhurt leaders, has been a major issue amongst supporters of nationalist opposition parties as they have staged a series of demonstrations in the south of the country in recent weeks. The trio were serving sentences of between 12 and 18 months after being found guilty in March of attempting to overthrow the government during demonstrations in October.

Authoirities managed to quell protest lasting over a week in early June with an appeal for the crowds to await the appeal hearings. The Bishkek City Court on June 17 overturned the conviction of party leader Kamchibek Tashiyev, while Sadyr Zhaparov and Talant Mamytov were acquitted by the Pervomaisky District Court, Knews reports. Three other activists charged over their part in the October events - Kubat Kozhonaliyev, Kanybek Kamchybekov and Bekzad Isayev - were also cleared.

Supporters of the three party leaders have organised a steady stream of demonstrations since they were detained. On June 16, they threatened to organise riots if they were not released. Ata-Zhurt, one of five parties represented in the Kyrgyz parliament, was behind protests in several parts of the country in late May and early June.

The decision is at odds with the view of the judicial authorities. Kyrgyz state prosecutors have complained that the original sentences handed down in March were too lenient. They had requested a 10-year sentence for Tashiyev and nine years each for Mamytov and Zhaparov, and have called several times for the sentence to be reviewed.

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