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Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago

[28.06.2OO2] Kyrgyz Court Reverses Ruling

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) -- A Kyrgyzstan court overturned the corruption sentence on Friday against an opposition lawmaker, whose case spawned nationwide protests in the former Soviet republic, a news report said.
Azimbek Beknazarov was convicted in May on charges of abuse of power dating from his time as a prosecutor and received a one-year suspended sentence. He claimed the charges were politically motivated because of his criticism of the government.
A regional court overturned the sentence, the Interfax news agency said. Court officials and Beknazarov's lawyer did not answer phone calls from the Associated Press on Friday.
Protests surrounding Beknazarov's trial led to the first political violence in Kyrgyzstan since its independence from the Soviet Union a decade ago. Five people were killed when police opened fire on a crowd of pro-Beknazarov demonstrators in March.
The incident led to nationwide protests calling for a full investigation into the violence and for the resignation of President Askar Akayev.
Akayev's Cabinet resigned in May in a bid to quell the protests in the Central Asian nation, where about 2,000 U.S. and other foreign troops are based in connection with the international war against terror.
But protesters pledged to keep up their campaign, calling for the case against Beknazarov to be fully dismissed and for the opposition lawmaker to be readmitted to Parliament. After his conviction, Beknazarov was stripped of his parliamentary seat.
Kyrgyzstan once was seen as an exemplar of post-Soviet reform, but Akayev in recent years has governed with an increasingly heavy hand.
Meanwhile, the lower chamber of the Kyrgyz parliament passed a bill Friday offering an amnesty to people who participated in the opposition marches, Interfax reported. The bill must be passed by the upper house and signed by the president.
Associated Press, June 28, 2002

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