Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court has begun hearing an appeal by 32 people in the southern Osh region convicted by a lower court of spreading ethnic and religious hatred, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
The defendants were accused of organizing a demonstration in October in the southern town of Nookat to protest a government decision not to allow a religious celebration for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr.
On November 27, the Osh Regional Court sentenced the defendants to prison terms ranging from nine to 20 years.
The defendants later complained that they were severely beaten and tortured while in detention.
At the hearing on May 14, public defender Dmitry Kabak questioned one of the major charges against the defendants: distribution of invitations for a gathering of the banned Hizb-ut Tahrir party.
He and his colleague, Aziza Abdyrasulova
, demanded an original copy of the flyer to be presented in the courtroom, but the judge declined the demand.
The judge did, however, accept that the defendants were arrested on lists prepared by local authorities beforehand.