A Kyrgyz court has begun the trial of five men charged with desecration of the dead after a family was forced to bury their 76-year-old mother three times due to religious restrictions.
The hearing started in southern Ala-Buka district court on December 22 but was adjourned after the court required additional documents.
The family says that the five men, aged between 27 and 34, were only "carrying out someone else’s instructions" to dig up the body in their village cemetery. They are demanding authorities prosecute those they say ordered it, including the local mullah, imam, and governor.
Ala-Buka resident Kanygul Satybaldieva, who died on October 13, was initially buried in the local cemetery, next to other relatives.
But village leaders in the predominantly Muslim region complained that Satybaldieva was Christian and demanded that her body be exhumed since the cemetery was restricted to Muslims.
The family reburied her in a mixed Muslim and Russian Orthodox cemetery in the district capital.
But two days later religious leaders from both faiths demanded her body be removed, saying Satybaldieva was Baptist, a Christian denomination unfamiliar to most Kyrgyz.
"They only allow Russian Orthodox to be buried there but not converts to other denominations," Seidakmat Kaziev, the cemetery keeper, told RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service.
The family ultimately buried her for the third time in a secret location six days after her death.
If found guilty, the five men face up to five years in prison.