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Former Kyrgyz Officials Walk Free After High-Profile Trial

BISHKEK -- The trial of two former Kyrgyz officials charged with organizing mass unrest in two southern cities and attempting to seize power last year has ended with their release, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Former parliament deputy and Communist Party leader Iskhak Masaliev was found not guilty and fully acquitted. Former presidential administration head Usen Sydykov was found guilty of organizing mass unrest and received a suspended six-year prison sentence. The charges of attempting to seize power were dropped.

Last month, the state prosecutor asked the court to sentence Masaliev to 14 years and Sydykov to 18 years in jail.

The two men, who went on trial on December 10, pleaded not guilty.

On May 12-13, groups allegedly associated with former President Kurmanbek Bakiev briefly occupied government buildings in Jalal-Abad and Osh. Investigators say Masaliev and Usenov were among the organizers of the action.

At least two people died in unrest in Jalal-Abad the following week.

Purported mobile phone conversations between the two men allegedly discussing the incident were made public last year.

In June, more than 400 people were killed in clashes between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks in the Jalal-Abad and Osh regions.

Bakiev was ousted in April as a result of widespread antigovernment protests in Bishkek during which at least 86 people died and hundreds were wounded in clashes between protesters and security forces.

Read more in Kyrgyz here