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Trial Of Ousted Kyrgyz President To Resume On November 22

Former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev
Former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev
BISHKEK -- The trial of former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev and nearly two dozen others has been postponed until November 22, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Bakiev and the others are being tried in connection with the clashes between demonstrators and security forces that led to the president's ouster in April. The defendants include former leading members of the security forces.

Several of them, including Bakiev and his brother Janysh, are not in Kyrgyzstan and are being tried in absentia.

The trial opened on November 17 but was halted after relatives of the victims and some other people threatened the defendants, their lawyers, and their family members.

The defendants' lawyers refused to take part in the trial until their safety is fully guaranteed. Judge Jakypbek Bektemirov ruled the trial would resume on November 22.

Dozens of protesters gathered on Bishkek's Old Square on November 18 to protest the postponement. Deputy Prime Minister Azimbek Beknazarov met with the protesters and called on them to be "reasonable." He also said the government has no right to interfere with the trial or the judge's decisions.

Aida Bosunova, an activist from the Homeland's Martyrs movement, told RFE/RL that the victims and their relatives are not interested in dragging out the trial. She said everybody wants a fair verdict and, therefore, the trial should go according to schedule.

A total of 28 defendants face charges of firing on or giving the order to open fire on antigovernment demonstrators on April 7. Nearly 90 people were killed in the clashes and hundreds more wounded, many of them seriously.

President Roza Otunbaeva told an award ceremony on November 15 that the trial of Bakiev and his former associates and relatives should not be considered revenge.

The trial is being held in Bishkek's Sports Palace in order to accommodate an estimated 1,000 witnesses, relatives of victims, and journalists.

Bakiev has been living in Belarus at President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's invitation since April. He is also wanted by Kyrgyz authorities for abuse of power and financial crimes, including corruption and embezzlement.

Read more in Kyrgyz here