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Kyrgyzstan: Deputy's Appeal Rejected, But Sentence Annulled

Bishkek, 28 June 2002 (RFE/RL) -- An appeals court in southern Kyrgyzstan has upheld the conviction of parliament deputy Azimbek Beknazarov, but annulled the sentence, which means he can continue to hold his seat in parliament. But the court in Toktogul today annulled the sentence against Beknazarov, an opposition member of parliament whose prosecution has caused widespread demonstrations, but not the verdict.

Last month, the district court in Djalalabad found Beknazarov guilty of abuse of office while serving as a prosecutor's investigator in 1995. That court sentenced Beknazarov to one year in prison but suspended the sentence.

Meanwhile, the lower house of Kyrgyzstan's parliament today passed the draft law on amnesty for all involved in the protest in support of Beknazarov in March that turned violent, leaving five demonstrators dead. Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev addressed the lower house explaining the need for amnesty for opposition representatives as well as law enforcement officers and local government officials.

"Both sides are demanding that we resolve this issue, one side defending their people, the other side defending their own people. Therefore, after several consultations, we have decided, at a government meeting, to finally resolve this issue by proposing a law granting amnesty [to people arrested in connection with opposition demonstrations in the Aksy district in March 2002]."

Opposition leaders have been incensed at the amnesty proposal, saying it releases those in the government from responsibility and gives nothing to protesters who were simply exercising their constitutional rights to demonstrate.