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Judge At High-Profile Kyrgyz Trial Replaced

A court opens the judicial trial against ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiev and his 27 aides for April violence.
BISHKEK -- The judge at a high-profile trial of 28 former top Kyrgyz officials is to be replaced following complaints from relatives of their alleged victims, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Supreme Court press secretary Baktybek Ryskaliev told RFE/RL the Military Court ruled on December 15 that judge Jakypbek Bektemirov should no longer preside at the trial of the officials, who include ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

Bakiev and his former associates went on trial last month on charges that they fired on, or gave the command to open fire, unarmed protesters in Bishkek on April 7 during antigovernment demonstrations that led to Bakiev's ouster.

The former president and eight other defendants, including one of his brothers and his eldest son, are being tried in absentia.

Judge Bektemirov ruled on November 29 that Bakiev and six other defendants should be tried separately from the rest. The relatives of the victims protested and demanded his replacement by a new judge. The name of the replacement judge has not yet been announced.

Nearly 90 people were killed and hundreds of others were injured during the April clashes.

The trial opened at Bishkek's Palace of Sports in November but has been adjourned several times since then following rowdy scenes in which some relatives of the victims threatened the defendants, their lawyers, and family members.

Read in Kyrgyz