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Former Kyrgyz Grand Mufti Detained In Kazakhstan

Kazakh police have detained a former grand mufti of neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Rakhmatulla-Hajji Egemberdiev, who is wanted in Bishkek on suspicion of tax evasion.

A judge in the Saryaghash district of South Kazakhstan province, Berik Qaipov, said on April 2 that Egemberdiev was arrested on March 29.

Qaipov said Egemberdiev denies any wrongdoing and contends that the case against him is politically motivated.

He said that Egemberdiev plans to apply for political asylum in Kazakhstan.

Egemberdiev was elected by Islamic clerics in Kyrgyzstan to a five-year term as the Central Asian nation's grand mufti in December 2012, after his predecessor was also accused of tax evasion.

Egemberdiev resigned in January 2014 amid a scandal over a videotape showing him in intimate relations with a woman who was not his wife.

Based on reporting by KazTAG and Interfax

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