BISHKEK — Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court has canceled the conviction and prison sentence of former President Almazbek Atambaev that was handed to him in June over his involvement in the illegal release of notorious crime boss Aziz Batukaev in 2013.
Atambaev’s lawyer Zamir Jooshev told RFE/RL late on November 30 that the Supreme Court ruled to send the case back to the Birinchi Mai district court in Bishkek for retrial. A reason for the decision was not immediately given.
In August, the Bishkek City Court upheld a ruling sentencing Atambaev to 11 years and two months in prison in the high-profile case.
Atambaev has denied any wrongdoing.
Aziz Batukaev, who was unexpectedly released from prison in 2013 and immediately left the Central Asian country for Russia, was convicted of several crimes — including the murders of a Kyrgyz lawmaker and an Interior Ministry official.
Atambaev was arrested in August 2019 after he surrendered to police following a deadly two-day standoff between security forces and his supporters.
The move to detain Atambaev was sparked by his refusal to obey three summons to appear at the Interior Ministry for questioning involving Batukaev’s release.
The standoff between security forces and his supporters resulted in the death of a top security officer and more than 170 injuries — 79 of them sustained by law enforcement officers.
After the arrest, Atambaev and 13 associates and supporters were charged with murder, attempted murder, threatening or assaulting representatives of authorities, hostage taking, and the forcible seizure of power.
The trial on those charges is currently under way and has been postponed several times since March due to Atambaev’s health problems, the failure of some defense lawyers to appear, and because of the state of emergency imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
On October 6, during mass protests against the official results of parliamentary elections two days earlier, Atambaev was released from a detention center in Bishkek.
He was rearrested on October 10 and additionally charged with organizing an illegal demonstration in Bishkek on October 9.
This post was originally published on Radio Free.