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Retrial For Jailed Ethnic Uzbek Activist Starts In Kyrgyzstan


Azimjan Askarov in court on October 4

A Kyrgyz court has begun a retrial for ethnic Uzbek activist Azimjan Askarov, who had been jailed for life in a case that has drawn international criticism.

Askarov was sentenced in 2010 for stirring up ethnic hatred during deadly clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks and of complicity in the death of a policeman during the violence.

The Supreme Court revoked the sentence in July and sent the case back to a lower court for review in light of "new circumstances that appeared in the case."

Askarov, who says the case against him was politically motivated, pleaded not guilty to the charges as hearings opened at the Chui Regional Court in Bishkek on October 4.

The court ordered him to remain in custody pending investigations.

Earlier this year, the UN Human Rights Committee urged Kyrgyzstan to release Askarov, finding that he had been arbitrarily detained, tortured, and denied his right to a fair trial.

More than 450 people were killed -- most of them ethnic Uzbeks -- and tens of thousands of people fled their homes in the 2010 ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan.

With reporting by AP