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Kyrgyz General Under House Arrest After Surprise Court Appearance

Murat Sutalinov was ordered to stay under house arrest after showing up at his trial in absentia.
BISHKEK -- The former chief of the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security (UKMK) has been put under house arrest in Bishkek after he unexpectedly showed up in court where he was being tried in absentia, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

General Murat Sutalinov, 48, disappeared after April 7, 2010, when a mass protest in Bishkek forced President Kurmanbek Bakiev from office.

Sutalinov and 27 other former top officials, including Bakiev, went on trial in November 2010. Sutalinov, Bakiev, and many of their co-defendants are being tried in absentia.

They are accused of either having fired upon or given the command to open fire on unarmed protesters in Bishkek during the antigovernment protests in April 2010 that led to Bakiev's ouster. Nearly 90 people were killed and some 400 wounded, of whom 12 subsequently died of their injuries.

Sutalinov tried to challenge the testimony of Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun at the hearings on December 14, which angered the victims and their relatives in the courtroom, who verbally insulted and threw some things at Sutalinov, who was sitting in the defendants' cage.

Sutalinov's lawyer, Kubanychbek Tashbaltaev, told the court his client came to the courtroom voluntarily and asked the judge to take into account "Sutalinov's contributions to Kyrgyz statehood" and allow him to stay under house arrest.

The lawyer did not say where Sutalinov had been hiding since April 2010.

The court agreed to Tashbaltaev's request and Sutalinov went home after the court proceeding was over. The trial is scheduled to resume on December 19.

Sutalinov served as head of Kyrgyzstan's national security service from 2006 to 2010.

Read more in Kyrgyz here, here, here, and see a photo gallery here