BISHKEK -- A court in Bishkek has sentenced Kyrgyz opposition politician Kanatbek Isaev to 12 years in prison on corruption charges.
The Birinchi Mai district court announced its ruling shortly before midnight on January 4 after finding Isaev guilty of illegally giving away state land to construction firms when he was mayor of the northern city of Tokmok from 2008 to 2010.
Isaev's two co-defendants were sentenced to 10 years in prison each.
Isaev rejected the charges, calling them politically motivated. His lawyers said the court ruling will be appealed.
Investigations were launched in May into allegations that Isaev was involved in the corrupt activities when he was Tokmok's mayor.
When Isaev was arrested in late September, Kyrgyzstan's State Committee for National Security (UKMK) charged that he was conspiring with criminal groups to organize mass disturbances and "a violent seizure of power" around the October 15 presidential election.
In June, Isaev's Kyrgyzstan party nominated him as its candidate for the presidential election. However, election officials rejected more than 10,000 of the 37,000 signatures submitted in his petition of support, putting his application below the required 35,000 signatures.
Sooronbai Jeenbekov won the presidency in the first round with 54 percent of the vote -- enough to avoid a runoff -- after a campaign in which critics said the outgoing president Almazbek Atambaev used courts, law enforcement, and other levers of power to bolster his candidacy.