BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz police say a former top official found dead in a burned-out car two years ago was in fact murdered and that 17 people have been taken into custody in connection with the killing, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
The charred body of Medet Sadyrkulov, a onetime chief of staff to former President Kurmanbek Bakiev, was found in the wreckage of a car on the Almaty-Bishkek highway in March 2009. Two of his associates were also found dead in the vehicle.
At the time, officials said the deaths were the result of a traffic accident. But Sadyrkulov's relatives challenged that finding, saying the bodies were in positions indicating that the victims were already dead when the car caught fire.
Motorist Omurbek Osmonov was tried and found guilty of the traffic accident that allegedly caused the fire. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail, but found dead in April last year in a village near Bishkek.
The investigation into Sadyrkulov's death was resumed in April 2010 after Bakiev was ousted.
Deputy Interior Minister Melis Turganbaev told RFE/RL on September 14 that a preliminary investigation revealed that Sadyrkulov and his associates were murdered in a summer house belonging to former presidential chief of staff Kurmanbek Temirbaev and later placed in a car on a highway near the village of Koi-Tash. The car was then set on fire.
Turganbaev said the murder was ordered by Janysh Bakiev, the former president's brother, who at that time was head of the state security forces.
At a press conference later on September 14, Interior Minister Zarylbek Rysaliev said the 17 suspects in detention include Zamir Moldoshev, the former chief of the Border Guards service
Kurmanbek Bakiev is currently living in Belarus at the invitation of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Janysh Bakiev's whereabouts are unknown.
Both men are wanted in Kyrgyzstan for their role in deadly clashes between protesters and security forces in April last year.
Read more in Kyrgyz here