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Ethnic Uzbek Leaders' Trial Postponed In Kyrgyzstan

Kadyrjan Batyrov and six others are being tried in absentia for inciting ethnic unrest in the southern Kyrgyz city of Jalal-Abad in June 2010.
JALAL-ABAD, Kyrgyzstan -- The trial of an ethnic Uzbek community leader and several other Uzbek representatives in southern Kyrgyzstan has been postponed after the judge agreed to recuse himself from the trial, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Kyrgyz Supreme Court spokesman Baktybek Rysaliev told RFE/RL that Judge Sulaiman Atakulov decided on May 19 not to preside over the trial in Jalal-Abad after Shadyrbek Sopubekov -- the lawyer for ethnic Uzbek leader Kadyrjan Batyrov -- requested that Atakulov be replaced because the defendants do not trust him.

Batyrov, a former Kyrgyz parliament deputy and the president of the Uzbek Culture Center in Jalal-Abad, and the other six ethnic Uzbeks have been charged with inciting interethnic hatred, separatist propaganda, and organizing violence in June between local Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the southern regions of Jalal-Abad and Osh.

More than 400 people were killed in those clashes and thousands of others were injured and displaced.

Batyrov is also the founder of the Peoples' Friendship University in Jalal-Abad, which was seriously damaged during the unrest.

The whereabouts of the defendants are unknown and therefore the trial -- which started earlier this month -- is being held in absentia.

Rysaliev said it is not clear yet when a new judge will be chosen or when the trial will resume.

Read more in Kyrgyz here