BISHKEK (TCA) — The second retrial of Kyrgyzstan’s jailed ethnic Uzbek human rights activist Azimjan Askarov has been moved from July 16 to July 30, human rights activists told RFE/RL.
The retrial at the Chui regional court in northern Kyrgyzstan was postponed due to delays in choosing the judges, the Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan (One World-Kyrgyzstan) human rights center in Bishkek said on July 15.
The retrial was announced due to a new law on the mitigation of many articles of Kyrgyzstan’s Criminal Code that came into force on January 1. It is not clear which of the charges against Askarov might be mitigated, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.
Askarov was convicted following deadly interethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010 when more than 450 people, mainly Uzbeks, were killed and tens of thousands more were displaced.
He was sentenced to life in prison after a court found him guilty of organizing the clashes between local Uzbeks and Kyrgyz and involvement in the murder of a police officer during the violence.
In July 2016, the Kyrgyz Supreme Court voided Askarov’s conviction and sent the case back to a lower court for review in light of “new circumstances that appeared in the case.”
That ruling came after the UN Human Rights Committee urged Kyrgyzstan to release Askarov, saying that he had been arbitrarily detained, tortured, and denied his right to a fair trial.
However, in January 2017, a court in Bishkek reinstated a sentence of life imprisonment for Askarov after again finding him guilty of stirring up ethnic hatred and of involvement in a police officer’s murder.
Askarov has insisted that his case is politically motivated.
Two weeks ago, eight international human rights organizations and media freedom watchdogs urged EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and other EU officials to call for Askarov’s immediate release from prison.