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Lawyers For Jailed Kyrgyz Ex-President Say He Needs Urgent Back Surgery

Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev (center) in court in Bishkek in November.

BISHKEK -- Lawyers for jailed former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev say he needs to be taken immediately from prison to a regular hospital for back surgery.

Zamir Zhooshev said on June 7 that his client needs the surgery due to extreme pain caused by a herniated disc.

"[Atambaev] will not receive proper medical service in the penal colony and therefore the surgery must be performed in a regular clinic outside of the penitentiary," Zhooshev said, adding that the 64-year-old's heart problems complicate the matter.

Atambaev was sentenced to 11 years and two months in prison in June 2020 over his involvement in the illegal release of a notorious crime boss.

In November, the Supreme Court sent the case back to a Bishkek district court for retrial. The reason for the decision was not immediately given.

Atambaev has denied any wrongdoing.

In early October, Atambaev was released from custody as the country was rocked by mass protests against the official results of parliamentary elections. He was rearrested four days later and charged with organizing an illegal demonstration.

Atambaev was initially arrested in August 2019 after he surrendered to police following a deadly two-day standoff between security forces and his supporters that led to the death of a top security officer and more than 170 injured.

The former president and 13 other people were charged with murder, attempted murder, threatening or assaulting representatives of the authorities, hostage-taking, and the forcible seizure of power.

A trial on those charges has yet to be held.