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Kyrgyz Ex-Speaker's Pretrial Detention Extended

Supporters of Akmatbek Keldibekov (center), shown at a folk-art festival in August 2011, say his prosecution is politically motivated.
BISHKEK -- The pretrial detention of former Kyrgyz parliament speaker Akmatbek Keldibekov has been extended.

A court in Bishkek ruled on February 14 that Keldibekov should stay in custody until March 27.

Keldibekov was arrested in November 2013 and charged with abuse of office and financial misdeeds while running the State Social Fund and Tax Service several years ago.

His arrest sparked protests in his native region of Osh in the country's south.

In December, thousands of Keldibekov's supporters twice stormed the headquarters of the Osh regional government, demanding his release.

Fourteen police officers were seriously injured in the standoff.

Keldibekov, a member of the opposition Ata-Jurt (Fatherland) party, served as parliament speaker between 2010 and 2011.

His supporters insist that his arrest is politically motivated.