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Kyrgyz Nationalist Party Leader's Trial Postponed

Urmat Baryktabasov, leader of Kyrgyzstan's "Meken Tuu" opposition party
BISHKEK -- The trial of a Kyrgyz nationalist leader accused of trying to overthrow the government was postponed today when his lawyers did not show up in court, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Urmat Baryktabasov, leader of the Meken Tuu (Flag of the Fatherland) party, and 14 of his associates and supporters are being tried in Bishkek's Birinchi Mai District court on charges of attempting to illegally seize power.

The trial is scheduled to resume on April 27. A verdict had been expected to be issued on April 26.

On April 14, the prosecutor asked for the defendants to be jailed for between 12-18 years.

Baryktabasov's lawyers say the charges have not been proven.

Defense attorney Bakai Kashkarbaev told RFE/RL that the lawyers were told the wrong time for today's hearing. He said officials told them it would begin at 10 a.m. on April 26, but it began at 2 p.m. "We were not aware of the time change," he told RFE/RL.

Baryktabasov and his codefendants were arrested in August after he led a protest march to Bishkek from his hometown in northern Kyrgyzstan to voice a number of demands, including that he be named prime minister.

Investigators say Baryktabasov and his associates were illegally carrying weapons when they were arrested.

After Baryktabasov's arrest, some 2,000 of his supporters staged a demonstration in Bishkek's central square to demand that President Roza Otunbaeva appoint him prime minister.

Baryktabasov had tried to run for president in 2005, but the Central Election Commission refused to register him because it claimed he had Kazakh citizenship.

Baryktabasov was also charged in absentia with trying to seize power in June 2005. He went into hiding and did not resurface until last year.

Baryktabasov denies any wrongdoing and says his arrest is politically motivated.

Read more in Kyrgyz here