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Kyrgyz Jailed For Killing Ethnic Uzbeks To Appeal Verdict

JALAL-ABAD, Kyrgyzstan -- The lawyers for two Kyrgyz men jailed for murdering Uzbeks in ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan say they will appeal the verdicts, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Rustam Jeenbekov and Cholpon Aljanov were sentenced to 25 and 20 years in prison, respectively, by the Jalal-Abad city court on November 5. They were found guilty of killing two local Uzbeks on June 13.

Lawyer Almaz Niyazov told RFE/RL the verdict was politically motivated. He said Jeenbekov was not present at the site of the killings when they occurred, and that 17 witnesses testified that Rustam was in another part of the region on the day of the killings.

Niyazov added that both Jeenbekov and Aljanov confessed to the crimes because of pressure from police and investigators.

Meanwhile, Judge Sulaiman Atakulov said that lawyers for the accused were present when they confessed, therefore any claims that they were subjected to pressure cannot be taken seriously.

Two other ethnic Kyrgyz were also found guilty of taking part in the killings, but given suspended sentences of three years in jail.

Nasriddin Tashmatov, the father of one of the victims, said he was generally satisfied with the verdict, but added that the two men who got suspended sentences should have received harsher punishments.

It was the first court case in which Kyrgyz were convicted for killing Uzbeks in the unrest in June.

Some 400 people were killed and hundreds injured during violent clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the southern regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad in mid-June.