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Turkmenistan: Trials In Assassination Bid Get Under Way

Ashgabat, 15 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The trial against suspects in the attempted assassination of Turkmenistan's president got under way today in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat. Thirty-two defendants are expected to appear in court, including five Russian citizens and six Turkish citizens. The accused face charges of attempting to kill Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, participation in a criminal group, and attempting to overthrow the constitutional structure of Turkmenistan.

Turkmen state television reported on the eve of the trials that 20 people would be sentenced to prison terms and 12 others would be sentenced to internal exile in remote villages.

The Russian and Turkish citizens are expected to be sent to their respective countries to serve their prison terms there after the trial is over.

More than 60 suspects are in custody for the 25 November attempt on Niyazov's life. Niyazov was not hurt, but four policemen were reportedly injured in the attack.