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Kyrgyz High Court Upholds Convictions For Religious Extremism

Aziza Abdyrasulova

Aziza Abdyrasulova

Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court has upheld verdicts against 32 people convicted of spreading ethnic and religious hatred, although it slightly reduced their sentences, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The defendants, from the southern Osh region, were accused of organizing a mass gathering in October in the town of Nookat to protest a government decision not to allow a religious celebration for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr.

On November 27, the Osh Regional Court sentenced the defendants to prison terms ranging from nine to 20 years.

The Supreme Court reduced the sentences to between five and 17 years.

The defendants complained that they were severely beaten and tortured while in detention.

Public defenders Dmitry Kabak and Aziza Abdyrasulova say many of those convicted -- the majority of whom are ethnic Uzbeks -- are uneducated and that two of them are women who were under 18 when they were arrested.

Additionally, most are not fluent in Kyrgyz or Russian, the two official languages in which all the court hearings were held.