Kyrgyz court holds ex-president after raid

Published : 09 Aug 2019 08:24 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 10:46 PM

A court in Kyrgyzstan has ordered the country’s former president to be held in pretrial detention after he was seized from his compound in raids that left one person dead and plunged the country in crisis, reports BSS/AFP.

The Central Asian state, which has seen two revolutions in less than two decades, is caught in a standoff between ex-leader Almazbek Atambayev and his protege-turned-foe President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Special forces this week launched two major operations to take Atambayev from his residence outside the capital Bishkek after he refused to be questioned in cases that supporters say are politically motivated. The first raid failed after descending into deadly violence, but in the second on Thursday he was detained.

A court in Bishkek late Thursday ordered the 62-year-old Atambayev held behind bars until August 26, a court spokesman said, but did not specify what he had been charged with.

Atambayev’s lawyer Sergey Slesarev told AFP that the court decision was connected to the illegal release from jail of a well-known crime boss during Atambayev’s presidency. Kyrgyzstan’s state prosecutor on Thursday named the freeing of ethnic Chechen underworld figure Aziz Batukayev in 2013 among five criminal cases in which Atambayev figures.

‘These charges are baseless… we intend to take our case to international courts,’ said Slesarev. The lawyer argued that his client still enjoys immunity from prosecution according to the constitution, despite parliament voting to strip him of this privilege in June.

The clashes that erupted at the former leader’s residence during the raids on Wednesday and Thursday have triggered several fresh criminal probes. A funeral service was held on Friday for Usen Niyazbekov, a special forces officer who died from a gunshot wound sustained in the unrest between security services and Atambayev’s supporters.

Around 100 others were injured in the two raids, the health ministry said. A political heavyweight who ran against Jeenbekov in the 2017 presidential election has announced he would return to the country, despite himself facing criminal investigations, in a move that could bring fresh tensions.