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Kyrgyz Opposition Leader Charged In Murder Case

The opposition believes the charges against Jekshenkulov are politically motivated.
BISHKEK -- A Kyrgyz opposition leader has been officially charged with involvement in a murder, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

For Justice movement leader Alikbek Jekshenkulov, a former foreign minister, was detained on March 9 in connection with the charges. Police investigators say that a bullet from Jekshenkulov's pistol killed a Turkish businessman in the Kyrgyz city of Talas in 2007.

Jekshenkulov's lawyer, Nina Zotova, told RFE/RL that her client is accused of illegally giving his pistol to another party who then committed the crime.

She also said that Bishkek's Birinchi-Mai District Court declined to release Jekshenkulov from custody while the investigation is under way. The court decision means that Jekshenkulov will stay in custody until April 9.

Kyrgyz opposition and human rights activists believe the charges against Jekshenkulov are politically motivated and the result of his work with the opposition.

About 100 supporters staged a rally outside the court building and shouted criticism of the decision as police escorted Jekshenkulov out of the proceedings.

Reuters reported that Jekshenkulov flashed a "Victory" sign as he was whisked into a waiting police vehicle.