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Former Kyrgyz President Atambaev Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison For Release Of Crime Boss


Almazbek Atambaev (file photo)

BISHKEK -- A Kyrgyz court has sentenced former President Almazbek Atambaev to 11 years and two months in prison for the illegal release of notorious crime boss Aziz Batukaev in 2013.

On June 23, judge Emilbek Kaipov of the Birinchi Mai District Court in Bishkek found Atambaev guilty of the organization of corruption and sentenced him the same day.

The 63-year-old Atambaev refused to make a final statement in the courtroom.

Throughout the case he has denied any wrongdoing.

The judge also ruled that Atambaev be deprived of all state awards and ranks, while property belonging to him and his family members is to be confiscated.

The property to be taken from the Atambaev family includes five vehicles, houses in the northern regions of Chui and Issyk-Kul, 10 parcels of land, and several companies, including a television channel.

Atambaev’s co-defendants, former Prosecutor-General Indira Joldubaeva, former chief of the Hematology Center, Abdukhalim Raimjanov, and Kalybek Kachkynaliev, a former adviser to the State Penitentiary Service chief, were also found guilty in the case.

Joldubaeva was ordered to pay a fine of 5 million soms ($66,000). Kachkynaliev was sentenced to two years in prison, but the judge freed him from custody because of time served in pretrial detention. Raimjanov was not sentenced due to the statute of limitations.

Aziz Batukaev (file photo)
Aziz Batukaev (file photo)

Aziz Batukaev, who suddenly was released from prison and immediately left the Central Asian nation for Russia in 2013, was convicted of several infamous crimes -- including the murders of a Kyrgyz lawmaker and an Interior Ministry official.

Atambaev is the first Kyrgyz president who was tried while physically present in the country in the Central Asian nation's history,

In 2014, another former president, Kurmanbek Bakiev, was sentenced in absentia to life for involvement in the 2010 killing of protesters during the uprising that ousted him.

Bakiev and members of his family have been living in Belarus since then.

Kyrgyzstan's first President Askar Akaev, who fled the country amid anti-government protests in 2005 and currently resides in Moscow, is wanted in Kyrgyzstan on corruption charges and his alleged involvement in the deadly dispersal of protesters in the southern town of Aksy in March 2002. He has not been tried yet.

Atambaev was arrested in early August last year after he surrendered to police following a deadly two-day standoff between security forces and his supporters.

The move to detain Atambaev was sparked by his refusal to obey three subpoenas calling him to the Interior Ministry for questioning in the case of Batukaev's illegal release.

The standoff between security forces and his supporters resulted in the death of a top security officer and injuries to more than 170 others -- including 79 law enforcement officers.

The violence underscored a power struggle between Atambaev and his handpicked successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, which has raised fears of instability in the Central Asian nation.

The former president is currently also on trial in another case linked to last year's violence, in which he and 13 others were charged with murder, attempted murder, threatening or assaulting representatives of authorities, hostage taking, and the forcible seizure of power.

Kyrgyzstan saw a smooth and peaceful transfer of power in 2017 from Atambaev, a northerner, to southerner Jeenbekov, which was welcomed by the international community after presidential changes in 2005 and 2010 came after revolts that ousted Akaev and Bakiev.