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Protest Against Convictions Of Kyrgyz For Murdering Ethnic Uzbeks

JALAL-ABAD, Kyrgyzstan -- Relatives and supporters of two Kyrgyz men convicted of murdering ethnic Uzbeks during clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan earlier this year have protested the court's decision, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Jalal-Abad city Interior Ministry spokesman Taalaibek Susunbaev told RFE/RL that some 20 protesters picketed the Jalal-Abad regional court and regional Prosecutor-General's Office on November 11 demanding the immediate release of Rustam Jeenbekov and Cholpon Aljanov.

The protesters said Jeenbekov and Aljanov were beaten while in custody and only confessed under pressure to the murder of two Uzbeks.

Jeenbekov and Aljanov were sentenced to 25 and 20 years in prison, respectively, by the Jalal-Abad city court on November 5. They were found guilty of killing two local Uzbeks on June 13.

Two other Kyrgyz were also found guilty of taking part in the killings but given suspended sentences of three years in jail.

It was the first court case in which Kyrgyz were convicted for killing Uzbeks during the unrest.

Some 400 people were killed and hundreds injured during violent clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the southern regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad in mid-June.