BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan's former Deputy Prime Minister Shamil Atakhanov has been arrested over the early release from prison in 2013 of one of the country’s most notorious crime bosses.
Kyrgyzstan's Interior Ministry said late on May 21 that Atakhanov "was placed in pretrial detention" on suspicion of involvement in the "illegal early release" of Aziz Batukaev.
Atakhanov served as deputy prime minister when Batukaev was granted early release after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2013.
His diagnosis was later found to have been falsified.
The Interior Ministry said last week that former Health Minister Dinara Sagynbaeva and Kalybek Kachkynaliev, an ex-adviser to the head of the State Penitentiary Service, were also detained in the case.
Four medical doctors were also detained last week on suspicion of aiding Batukaev’s early release.
Batukaev’s release in April 2013 caused a scandal that led to Atakhanov's resignation and the sacking of the country's ombudsman.
Batukaev, an ethnic Chechen, was sentenced in 2006 to nearly 17 years in a prison for his involvement in several serious crimes -- including the murders of a Kyrgyz lawmaker and an Interior Ministry official.
After his release, Batukaev immediately left for Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya.