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Prominent Rights Activist's Appeal Briefly Resumes In Kyrgyz Court

Azimjan Askarov

Azimjan Askarov

BISHKEK -- An appeals hearing briefly resumed today in a murder case related to last year's ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reports.

The Supreme Court was to hear the appeal of Azimjan Askarov, a well-known human rights defender, and seven other ethnic Uzbeks.

They were found guilty last September of organizing ethnic clashes and of involvement in the murder of a policeman in the village of Bazar-Korgon during the violence earlier that summer.

Reports said the hearing opened and then quickly adjourned pending the result of an investigation requested by Askarov's lawyer into his prison conditions.

No new hearing date was set.

Askarov and four others received life sentences; two were given 20-year prison terms, and one was sentenced to nine years. Askarov, who is a Kyrgyz citizen, says he is innocent of the charges.

The case has been criticized by rights groups in Kyrgyzstan and abroad. The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek said last month it was concerned about the fairness of the appeals hearing.