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Kyrgyz Ex-PM Sent To Pretrial Detention In Corruption Case


Former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov

A court in Bishkek has ordered former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov be held in pretrial detention for two months.

Babanov and at least four other prominent politicians were detained earlier this week as part of a corruption investigation connected to the Central Asian country's largest gold mine.

Speaking to RFE/RL as he arrived at Bishkek’s Pervomaisky district court on June 2, Babanov denied any wrongdoing and called the charges against him absurd.

Hundreds of his supporters demonstrated outside the court to demand the ex-prime minister's release.

The other suspects detained in the case include lawmakers Torobay Zulpukarov and Asylbek Jeenbekov, whose brother Sooronbai Jeenbekov stepped down as president last year, as well as two ex-lawmakers.

The Kyrgyz government has temporarily taken over control of the Kumtor gold mine, which is run by Canada's Centerra Gold, in what President Sadyr Japarov said was a necessary move to address environmental and safety violations.

Centerra Gold has refuted the claims, calling them meritless