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Kyrgyz Protesters Want Former Defense Minister Back In Custody

Former Kyrgyz Defense Minister Baktybek Kalyev
Former Kyrgyz Defense Minister Baktybek Kalyev
BISHKEK -- Relatives of those who died during antigovernment protests in Kyrgyzstan last year are demanding former Defense Minister Baktybek Kalyev's return to detention, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Kalyev is one of 28 former officials, including former President Kurmanbek Bakiev, on trial over the deaths of some 100 protesters in the popular uprising that swept Bakiev from power in April 2010.

Kalyev, 45, was transferred two weeks ago from a detention center to house arrest on health grounds following an appeal to the Supreme Court on his behalf by some 60 parliamentarians.

Lawyer Osunbek Jamansariev, who is representing relatives of the April uprising victims in court, told RFE/RL on August 22 that the relatives and their supporters plan to ask the government to intervene.

They say unnamed political forces are exerting pressure on the judge, which made possible the transfer of one of the major suspects to house arrest.

Kyrgyzstan's interim government arrested Kalyev in April last year. Investigators later found $5.8 million allegedly belonging to Kalyev in the AziaUniversalBank.

The 28 former officials on trial are accused of either having fired upon or giving the command to open fire on unarmed demonstrators outside the main government building in Bishkek in April 2010.

Most of the defendants are in detention or under house arrest. But Bakiev and several others -- most of them his close relatives -- are being tried in absentia.

The ousted president is living in Belarus at the invitation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The trial continued on August 22. In the past, it has been adjourned several times because of scuffles in the courtroom in which some relatives of protesters who died threatened the defendants, their lawyers, and members of their families.