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Three Kyrgyz Opposition Leaders Jailed On Plot Charges


Supporters of the detained opposition lawmakers protest in front of the court in Bishkek on March 29.
BISHKEK -- Three Kyrgyz opposition lawmakers have been jailed on charges they tried to seize power by force.

A Bishkek district court sentenced two leaders of the Ata-Jurt (Homeland) party, Kamchybek Tashiev and Sadyr Japarov, to 18 months in jail.

A third Ata-Jurt leader, Talant Mamytov, was sentenced to one year in prison.

The three opposition lawmakers were arrested in October 2012 for their role in violent protests by about 1,000 demonstrators that month in the capital, Bishkek.

The demonstrators had demanded the nationalization of the country's Kumtor gold mine.

The trial began on January 10. All three defendants pleaded not guilty.

In court on March 29, Tashiev said he called for the removal of the current government at the October gathering, but did not call for violence.

Mamytov and Japarov said they were at the protest to help raise awareness of problems concerning the Kumtor mine, which, among other things, has been dogged by accusations that it has caused environmental damage.

Some 200 of their supporters scuffled with police before the sentences were read on March 29.

Police had to call for reinforcements after the demonstrators scuffled with police and tried to force their way into the court building.