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Ethnic Uzbek Rights Activist's Trial In Kyrgyzstan To Resume

BISHKEK -- The trial of a Kyrgyz human rights activist accused of involvement in a police officer's killing and other crimes will resume next week, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Azimjan Askarov, an ethnic Uzbek, is also charged with organizing mass disorder and inciting interethnic hatred in the southern Jalal-Abad Oblast during deadly clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in June.

Askarov's lawyer, Nurbek Toktakunov, told RFE/RL that his client pleaded not guilty in a court in the village of Nooken, in Jalal-Abad Oblast, on September 2. He said the trial would resume on September 6.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement last month urging Kyrgyz officials to give Askarov a fair and open trial.

Domestic and international human rights organizations claimed that Askarov was beaten by prison guards while in custody last month. He was subsequently transferred from the Bazar-Korgon district pretrial detention center to the regional detention center in the oblast's capital, Jalal-Abad.

Askarov later stated he had been beaten by his cellmates, not by police.

Bazar-Korgon police and Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun insist that prison guards had nothing to do with Askarov's beating.

Several other leaders of local Uzbek communities in Kyrgyzstan's southern regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad are wanted by Kyrgyz officials for their alleged involvement in the organization of and/or participation in the violent clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz that have officially claimed nearly 400 lives.