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Trial Date Set For Kyrgyz Ex-President Over Deadly Clashes

Almazbek Atambaev meets with journalists outside his compound in the village of Koi-Tash near Bishkek on June 27, 2019.
Almazbek Atambaev meets with journalists outside his compound in the village of Koi-Tash near Bishkek on June 27, 2019.

BISHKEK -- A date has been set for the trial of the former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev and his 13 co-defendants over deadly clashes with security forces at Atambaev's compound last year in a Bishkek suburb.

Atambaev's lawyer, Zamir Jooshev, told RFE/RL on March 6 that the Birinchi Mai district court in Bishkek ruled after several days of preliminary hearings that the trial will start on March 23.

Jooshev also said that Judge Marat Sydykov had rejected a defense motion to have the trial open to the public, ruling instead that it will be held behind closed doors.

In August 2019, security officials were sent to Atambaev's compound in the settlement of Koi-Tash near Bishkek after he refused to obey three subpoenas calling him to the Interior Ministry for questioning in an investigation over his alleged involvement in the illegal release of a jailed organized-crime boss in 2013.

Atambaev was arrested on August 8 after he surrendered to police following two days of violent resistance.

The resistance by the former president and his supporters resulted in the death of a 47-year-old security officer, Usenbek Niyazbekov, and injuries to more than 170 others, including 79 law enforcement officers.

Atambaev and his 13 co-defendants were charged with murder, attempted murder, threatening or assaulting representatives of authorities, hostage taking, and forced power seizure.

All 14 defendants pleaded not guilty and called the case against them politically motivated.

Five more defendants in the case made plea deals with investigators and will be tried separately.

The clashes underscored a power struggle between Atambaev and his handpicked successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, which raised fears of instability in the Central Asian state.

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