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Suspect In Murder Of Kyrgyz Journalist Renounces Testimony

Defendant Almaz Igilikov has retracted his testimony.
Defendant Almaz Igilikov has retracted his testimony.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- One of the three people accused of killing independent Kyrgyz journalist Gennady Pavlyuk in Kazakhstan in 2009 has renounced his initial testimony, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Pavlyuk, 51, was thrown from the sixth floor of an Almaty building on December 16, 2009, with his arms and legs bound. He died in a hospital six days later.

Beysengali Urazov told RFE/RL that, on July 11, his client, Kazakh national Almaz Igilikov, recanted the initial testimony he made against another defendant, former Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security agent Aldayar Ismankulov.

Urazov said that during his six-month house arrest, Igilikov was pressured to testify against Ismankulov.

In his initial testimony, Igilikov mentioned the name of Ismankulov in connection with reserving a hotel room and renting an apartment for Pavlyuk in Almaty.

Urazov said that when Igilikov was interrogated later as a murder suspect he renounced his initial testimony.

The investigation considers Ismankulov the main suspect in the crime. He is accused of organizing and being directly involved in Pavlyuk's killing.

But Ismankulov's lawyer, Svetlana Murzina, said there is no proof of her client's guilt.

Ismankulov said that even though he was in Almaty on the day of the murder, he did not see Pavlyuk and was not in the apartment from which he was thrown to his death.

According to the investigation, Igilikov reserved a hotel room and rented an apartment for Pavlyuk and took him from to the apartment on December 16.

The third defendant is a Kazakh citizen, Shalqar Orazalin. He and Igilikov also claim they are innocent.

An ethnic Russian, Pavlyuk was known in Kyrgyzstan, where he lived and worked, under the pseudonym Rustam Ibragimbek.

He founded the "White Steamer" newspaper and website and wrote for the newspaper "Vecherny Bishkek" and the Russian weekly "Argumenty i fakty."

Pavlyuk's relatives and colleagues in Kyrgyzstan have alleged that his murder was politically motivated, as he was working with opponents of then-Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev. He had also received many personal threats prior to his death.

But Kazakh investigators have claimed his killing was an ordinary crime that may have involved a robbery but had nothing to do with politics.

Read more in Russian here