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Ambulance Called To Court For Kyrgyz Opposition Leader Tekebaev

Kyrgyz opposition leader Omurbek Tekebaev in court earlier this year.
Kyrgyz opposition leader Omurbek Tekebaev in court earlier this year.

BISHKEK -- The politically-charged bribery trial of Kyrgyz opposition leader Omurbek Tekebaev was interrupted on August 15 when an ambulance was called after the defendant felt ill.

Tekebaev's lawyer, Chynara Jakupbekova, told RFE/RL that Tekebaev's blood pressure was high and that he needed medical assistance.

The medical team attended to Tekebaev and the trial resumed, with the ambulance still stationed outside.

It was the second time an ambulance has been called since the high-profile trial began in June.

Last week, a first-aid crew came to attend to Tekebaev, 58, and Judge Aibek Ernis-Uulu, who also felt unwell.

Tekebaev is the leader of the opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party, which says the trial is a politically motivated effort to keep him out of a presidential election scheduled for October 15 in the Central Asian country.

Tekebaev and his co-defendant, former Emergency Situations 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 wrongdoing.

On August 10, the prosecutor asked the judge to sentence Tekebaev to 10 years in prison and Chotonov to eight 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 was arrested in late February. On March 5, Ata-Meken named him as its candidate in the presidential election.

A verdict had been expected on August 11, but the trial was adjourned for the weekend and continued on August 14 and August 15.

A veteran politician who has served as speaker of parliament, Tekebaev is a former ally of President Almazbek Atambaev.

But their relations soured badly in 2016 after Atambaev proposed constitutional amendments -- which are now in place -- that critics say could enable him to retain power after he leaves the presidency.

Atambaev is limited to a single term by the constitution.

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