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Five Sentenced Over Kyrgyz Political Murder

Victim Medet Sadyrkulov (second from right) died shortly after leaving his post as chief of staff to President Kurmanbek Bakiev (left) to join the opposition.
BISHKEK -- A Bishkek garrison court has sentenced five former Kyrgyz officials for their roles in a high-profile political assassination that was initially ruled a traffic accident.

The convictions still leave open questions, as the authorities are seeking the arrest of exiled former President Kurmanbek Bakiev and one of his brothers for their suspected involvement in the killings.

Supporters and family members of slain opposition politician Medet Sadyrkulov and two associates have alleged the killings were part of a broader conspiracy.

Former Kyrgyz Border Guard Service chief Zamir Moldoshev was sentenced on November 26 to five years in prison. A former department chief with the State Protection Service, meanwhile, received 18 years and his two former subordinates got 15 years each in prison.

Sadyrkulov and his associates were found dead in a burned car near Bishkek in March 2009.

The deaths were ruled a traffic accident until the reopening of the case following the ouster of Bakiev from the presidency in April 2010.

Kurmanbek Bakiev lives in exile in Belarus.

His brother, Janysh, was the head of the presidential guard and seen as the president's uncompromising enforcer.

Sadyrkulov was killed shortly after he left a job as Bakiev's chief of staff to join the opposition. He had previously served as chief of staff to Bakiev's predecessor, Askar Akaev.