Kyrgyzstan ex-leader sentenced to 11 years in crime boss case
Bishkek: Kyrgyzstan’s former president was sentenced to 11 years in jail Tuesday over the illegal release of a crime boss, in a case that caused a power struggle with his successor to turn violent.
The presiding judge at a court in the capital Bishkek handed Almazbek Atambayev the sentence of 11 years and two months and ruled the ex-leader be stripped of all state honours as well as his homes and businesses.
Atambayev, who is 63 and has claimed ill health, did not attend the sentencing.
The early release from jail of ethnic Chechen crime boss Aziz Batukayev in 2013 caused a scandal in Central Asian Kyrgyzstan, where organised crime and politics are often seen as closely linked.
Investigators later found that the medical documents that provided the basis for Batukayev’s release and subsequent travel to Russia were forged.
Atambayev, who was president at the time, has always denied knowledge of the falsification.
Ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, which has seen two revolutions in less than two decades, was roiled last year by a standoff between Atambayev and his protege-turned-foe President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.
Atambayev faces a series of other charges including murder in a separate court case covering violent clashes between his supporters and security forces last year.
The clashes occurred after he ignored a police summons for questioning over the Batukayev case.
A special forces officer was killed during the dramatic operation to detain the former leader.
The two politicians’ standoff briefly sparked fears of violence between regions, since Atambayev hails from the north of the impoverished country, and Jeenbekov from the south. - AFP