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Kyrgyz Protesters Demand Release Of Former President's Nephew

Sanjar Bakiev, nephew of the former Kyrgyz president
Sanjar Bakiev, nephew of the former Kyrgyz president
JALAL-ABAD, Kyrgyzstan -- Some 30 people in the southern Kyrgyz city of Jalal-Abad are demanding the immediate release of Sanjar Bakiev, the jailed nephew of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiev, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The protesters gathered in the city's Erkin Too (Free Mountains) Square today to protest the February 1 court rejection of Sanjar Bakiev's appeal of the 10-year sentence given to him in connection with deadly unrest in southern Kyrgyzstan last year.

Sanjar Bakiev pleaded guilty to involvement in riots in Jalal-Abad in May. He was sentenced on November 2 to 10 years in jail but appealed the sentence.

In mid-May, groups allegedly associated with the former president temporarily seized the city hall in Jalal-Abad. The following week, demonstrators tried to storm a university in the city, triggering fighting in which at least two people were killed.

Sanjar Bakiev was charged with helping organize the first incident and with illegal possession of weapons.

His appeal hearing was held near Bishkek for security reasons.

Former President Bakiev lives in Belarus, where he eventually fled after being ousted in April last year. Several of his brothers and two of his sons are wanted in Kyrgyzstan for alleged financial crimes.

Read in Kyrgyz here