Kyrgyzstan: Former president Atambayev refuses to attend corruption case trial

BISHKEK (TCA) — Former president of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev, who is currently in pretrial detention in Bishkek, has refused to attend the first hearing of the case on the illegal release from prison of notorious crime boss Aziz Batukaev, news agency reported with reference to Atambayev’s lawyer Sergei Slesarev.

Atambayev was scheduled to go on trial on October 11 on corruption charges.

The proceedings began with a closed preliminary hearing in the capital, Bishkek.

The preliminary hearing has now been postponed to October 14.

The Birinchi Mai district court in August said the charge against the 63-year-old former president is linked to the 2013 illegal release of notorious crime boss Aziz Batukaev, who was convicted for several high-profile crimes, including the murders of a Kyrgyz lawmaker and an Interior Ministry official, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

Atambayev faces up to 15 years in prison, if convicted, his lawyer Sergei Slesarev told journalists. The former president has denied wrongdoing.

Atambayev was arrested on August 8 after he surrendered to police following a violent two-day standoff between security forces and his supporters.

The standoff between security forces and his supporters resulted in one death of a top security officer and more than 170 injuries — 79 of them sustained by law-enforcement officers.

The violence underscored a power struggle between Atambayev and his handpicked successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

The former president is also suspected of committing 13 other crimes, including organization of murder, organization of mass disturbances, and taking servicemen hostage during the clashes at his residence this summer, his lawyer said.