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Kyrgyz Ex-President Again Removed From Courtroom For 'Disrupting Order'

Kyrgyz Ex-President Almazbek Atambaev
Kyrgyz Ex-President Almazbek Atambaev

BISHKEK -- Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev has been removed from the courtroom for the second time in three days after he began disrupting proceedings during his trial on a charge of attempting to seize power amid anti-government protests in October 2020.

As a hearing at the Birinchi Mai district court on April 11 resumed, Atambaev shouted "shame!" He also began kicking the glass walls of his defendant's enclosure and again stated that his poor state of health precluded him from being in the courtroom.

After people present in the courtroom started expressing support for the former president, the judge ordered the bailiffs to remove Atambaev from the room.

The judge already had to remove Atambaev on April 8 for "deliberately disrupting order in the courtroom" after the former president started kicking the glass enclosure, saying that he could not be in the courtroom due to his medical condition.

Earlier last week, Atambaev said he felt sick, and the trial was adjourned after an ambulance arrived at the court to take the former president to receive medical care.

On April 5, Atambaev said he felt better but refused to testify at the trial.

The charge against Atambaev stems from his participation in anti-government rallies in October 2020 that were sparked by controversial parliamentary elections seen by many as rigged.

In the wake of the protests, Atambaev, who was then serving an 11-year prison term he was handed earlier that year for his role in the illegal release of a notorious crime boss, Aziz Batukaev, in 2013, was shortly released and along with several other politicians joined the protests. He was later rearrested.

The 65-year-old Atambaev, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested in August 2019 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 summons to appear at the Interior Ministry for questioning about Batukaev’s release.

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.

Atambaev's other trial linked to the 2019 violence is currently taking place as well. He and 13 others are charged with murder, attempted murder, threatening or assaulting representatives of authorities, hostage taking, and the forcible seizure of power.

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