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Kyrgyz Authorities Reopen Case Into Murder Of High-Profile Journalist

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Alisher Saipov was shot dead in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh in 2007.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz authorities have reopened a probe into the assassination of independent journalist Alisher Saipov, who was shot dead in the southern city of Osh almost 12 years ago.

Saipov's brother, Shohrukh Saipov, told RFE/RL on October 3 that the prosecutor-general in a recent answer to IFEX, a Canadian-based global network defending freedom of expression as a human right, said that the investigation into the high-profile murder was reopened by a court in late August.

"We, of course, are very happy that the probe is reopened. It looks like it is impossible to find a person who really wanted my brother dead 12 years ago...But we long for official information revealing who or what was the reason for my brother's assassination," Shohrukh Sapiov said, adding that relatives had not been informed about the move to restart the investigation.

Officials at the Prosecutor-General's Office confirmed to RFE/RL that the probe has been reopened.

The U.S-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomed the move and called for an "open and thorough reinvestigation."

"Kyrgyzstan must hold all perpetrators, including the masterminds, to account," said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said. "It’s been far too long for the Saipov family to await justice and for the perpetrators to remain at large."

Saipov, the founder and chief editor of the newspaper Siyosat (Politics), was shot dead in central Osh on October 24, 2007. He was also a contributor to RFE/RL and Voice of America.

Saipov's Uzbek-language weekly, which was distributed both in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, stopped publishing after the murder.

In 2010, a court in Osh found local resident Abdulgafar Rasulov guilty of killing Saipov and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

However, Saipov's relatives protested against the sentence. They argued that a deeper plot was at the heart of the crime and that the "real killers" and those who planned the murder were not punished.

Saipov, an ethnic Uzbek, wrote about Islamic groups and opposition politics in the region. He had also reported on the 2005 massacre of protesters in the Uzbek city of Andijon.

In 2012, the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry launched a fresh investigation into Saipov's murder, citing "new leads" in the case. However, the new investigation failed to identify any new suspects involved in the killing.

The case was officially closed in 2013.

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