Kyrgyzstan: Jailed opposition politicians Tekebaev, Chotonov transferred to house arrest

Omurbek Tekebaev in a courtroom in Bishkek

BISHKEK (TCA) — A court in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek has transferred two jailed opposition politicians, Omurbek Tekebaev and Duishonkul Chotonov, to house arrest.

The Birinchi Mai district court’s August 29 ruling was greeted with cheers by more than 200 supporters and relatives of the two men, who gathered outside the court’s building, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

Tekebaev and Chotonov were released immediately after the ruling was pronounced.

On August 21, Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court canceled guilty verdicts against the two and sent the case back to the court, citing “newly revealed circumstances.”

In 2017, Tekebaev and his co-defendant, former Emergency Situations Minister Chotonov, were convicted of bribe-taking and sentenced to eight years in prison each. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

Their lawyers filed the appeal to revise the case saying they had evidence showing that a key witness, Russian businessman Leonid Mayevsky, had lied during the trial.

Tekebaev is the leader of the opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party, which has insisted that the case was a politically motivated effort to keep him out of a presidential vote in October 2017.

Tekebaev was arrested in February 2017, months after he turned into a vocal critic of then-President Almazbek Atambayev.

The court’s decision to revise the case came less than two weeks after Atambayev was arrested on August 8 after he surrendered to police following a violent two-day standoff between security forces and his supporters.

Kyrgyz authorities had initially said that Atambayev faced five counts of criminally abusing his office during his 2011-17 term.

After the violent standoff, which resulted in the death of a security officer and more than 170 injuries, additional charges were filed against the ex-president, including using violence against representatives of the authorities, organizing mass unrest, masterminding a murder attempt, hostage taking, and illegal use of firearms.

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Times of Central Asia