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Kyrgyz Opposition Leader Tekebaev's Verdict Expected Next Week

Kyrgyz oppositionists Omurbek Tekebaev (left) and Duishonkul Chotonov in court on August 11.
Kyrgyz oppositionists Omurbek Tekebaev (left) and Duishonkul Chotonov in court on August 11.

BISHKEK -- A judge in Kyrgyzstan is expected to announce a verdict next week in the politically-charged bribery trial of Kyrgyz opposition leader Omurbek Tekebaev.

The verdict and sentence had been expected on August 11 in the trial, which Tekebaev's Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party says is a politically motivated effort to keep him out of a presidential vote this autumn.

But after a heated hearing dragged on into the evening, the judge first said it would continue until 11 p.m., if needed, and then said it would resume on August 14 instead.

Tekebaev and his co-defendant, former Emergencies Minister Duishonkul Chotonov, are charged with receiving a $1 million bribe from a Russian businessman in 2010, when Tekebaev was deputy prime minister.

Both deny any wrongdoing, saying the case against them is politically motivated.

On August 10, the prosecutor at the trial asked the judge to sentence Tekebaev to 10 years and Chotonov to 8 years in prison if they are convicted.

The prosecutor also requested that both politicians' property be confiscated and that the defendants be barred from government posts for three years after their release.

Tekebaev is leader of the opposition Ata-Meken party, which has alleged that the government launched the case in an effort to stifle dissent ahead of the October 15 presidential election in the Central Asian country and keep Tekebaev off the ballot.

Tekebaev was arrested in late February. On March 5, Ata-Meken named him as its candidate for the presidential election.

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