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'Missing' Defendant To Reappear At Bakiev Trial

A former high-ranking Kyrgyz official who disappeared shortly after he went on trial with the country's former president is to appear in court when the trial resumes on March 18, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Former Prosecutor-General Nurlan Tursunkulov was one of three defendants who failed to appear in court in November, shortly after the start of the trial of 28 former top officials, including ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

Supreme Court spokesman Baktybek Rysaliev told RFE/RL that Tursunkulov is under house arrest.

Bakiev, who is in exile in Belarus, and his former associates went on trial last year on charges that they fired upon, or gave the command to open fire at, unarmed protesters in Bishkek on April 7 during antigovernment demonstrations that forced Bakiev from power.

The former president and several other defendants, including one of his brothers and his eldest son, are being tried in absentia.

In November, authorities announced a search was under way for Tursunkulov, former Presidential Office chief Kanybek Joroev, and former Presidential Secretariat chief Oksana Malevannaya, after they disappeared together with their families.

The trial started in November in the Sports Palace in Bishkek but has been adjourned several times following rowdy scenes in which some relatives of victims of the uprising have threatened the defendants, their lawyers, and family members.

In late November, the Bishkek garrison military court ruled that the case should be sent back to the prosecutor's office for additional investigation. After a bomb explosion near the Sports Palace on November 30, the trial was suspended.

At least 86 people were killed and hundreds of others injured during the April 7 clashes in Bishkek.

About a dozen protesters went on hunger strike in Kyrgyzstan's northern city of Naryn on March 16 demanding that all those responsible for the killing of protesters on April 7 be punished.

Read more in Kyrgyz here