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Prosecutors Seek 15-Year Prison Term For Former Kyrgyz President Over Release Of Crime Boss

Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev (file photo)
Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev (file photo)

BISHKEK -- Prosecutors in Kyrgyzstan have asked a court to sentence former President Almazbek Atambaev to 15 years in prison at his trial over the illegal release of notorious crime boss Aziz Batukaev in 2013.

Prosecutors also asked the Birinchi Mai District Court on June 16 to deprive Atambaev of all state awards and to confiscate his property.

Atambaev's lawyer, Zamir Jooshev, told RFE/RL that the verdict and sentence in the case are expected to be announced by the court on June 18.

Batukaev, who suddenly was released from prison and immediately left the Central Asian nation for Russia in 2013, was convicted of several infamous crimes -- including the murders of a Kyrgyz lawmaker and an Interior Ministry official.

In all, 19 former officials and medical personnel are co-defendants in the high-profile case.

The 63-year-old Atambaev, who has denied any wrongdoing, was arrested in early August last year after he surrendered to police following a deadly two-day standoff between security forces and his supporters.

The move to detain Atambaev was sparked by his refusal to obey three subpoenas calling him to the Interior Ministry for questioning in Batukaev's illegal-release case.

The standoff between security forces and his supporters resulted in the death of a top security officer and more than 170 injuries -- 79 of them sustained by law enforcement officers.

The violence underscored a power struggle between Atambaev and his handpicked successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, which has raised fears of instability in the Central Asian nation.

The former president is currently also on trial in another case linked to last year's violence, in which he and 13 others were charged with murder, attempted murder, threatening or assaulting representatives of authorities, hostage taking, and the forcible seizure of power.

Kyrgyzstan saw a smooth and peaceful transfer of power in 2017 from Atambaev, a northerner, to southerner Jeenbekov, which was welcomed by the international community after presidential changes -- in 2005 and 2010 -- came after violent rioting.

However, the deadly clashes last year at Atambaev's compound underscored a subsequent power struggle between him and Jeenbekov.