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Aksy Shootings Case Reopens In Kyrgyzstan

Mourners last year hold portraits of the people killed by policemen during the Aksy protests in 2002.
BISHKEK -- A hearing into the shooting deaths of six Kyrgyz protesters nearly a decade ago began today in a Bishkek military court, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

On March 17, 2002, security forces in the village of Aksy opened fire on dozens of people protesting a government decision to give China a piece of disputed territory. Four people were killed and nearly 30 injured in the incident. The next day in Kerben, Aksy district's administrative center, police shot dead one protester and another was severely beaten. He later died of his injuries.

Nobody was prosecuted for the killings.

The events took place when Askar Akaev was president. Akaev's prime minister was Kurmanbek Bakiev, who became president after the 2005 Tulip Revolution that forced Akaev out. Bakiev was ousted himself last April.

The decision to resume the investigation into the Aksy killings was made last year after the interim government came to power and Bakiev fled Kyrgyzstan for Belarus, where he currently lives.

Kyrgyzstan's former Security Council Secretary Bolot Januzakov, former Prosecutor-General Chubak Abyshkaev, former Jalal-Abad Oblast prosecutor Zootbek Kudaibergenov, and the former chief of the National Security office in Jalal-Abad, Tashtan Mambetaliev, are charged with abuse of office and the illegal arrest of peaceful demonstrators.

Judge Almaz Apyshov ruled the trial will be held behind closed doors and he asked all journalists to leave the courtroom at the start of today's session.

Read in Kyrgyz here