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Kyrgyz Supreme Court Rejects Request By Former President's Lawyer

Former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev
Former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev
BISHKEK -- The Kyrgyz Supreme Court has rejected a request by former President Kurmanbek Bakiev's lawyer to replace the judge in the trial against him and 27 of his associates, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Supreme Court spokesman Baktybek Rysaliev told RFE/RL the court decided that Judge Damir Onolbekov will continue to preside over the trial. No date was given for the resumption of the trial.

Onolbekov first began chairing the trial on March 18 when it restarted after a four-month break.

The trial was postponed earlier this month when Bakiev's lawyer requested that Onolbekov be replaced.

Bakiev and his former associates are accused of either having fired upon or given the command to open fire on unarmed protesters in Bishkek during the antigovernment protests in April 2010 that led to Bakiev's ouster.

Many of the defendants are jailed or under house arrest, except for Bakiev and several others -- many of them his close relatives -- who are being tried in absentia. Bakiev lives in Belarus at the invitation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The trial began in November in the Sports Palace in Bishkek with hundreds of spectators, but was adjourned several times following rowdy scenes in which some relatives of those killed threatened defendants, their lawyers, and family members.

On April 21, some 150 protesters picketed the Kyrgyz parliament demanding that the trial be resolved before President Roza Otunbaeva's term expires in the fall.

Otunbaeva took over the leadership of the country after Bakiev was toppled and pledged she would not run for another term as president. She officially restated that earlier this year.

Read more in Kyrgyz here