Kyrgyzstan: Human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov is sentenced to life imprisonment
On September 15 the court in the Masy village, the Nooken district of the Jalal-Abad Oblast of Kyrgyzstan, sentenced the prominent human rights advocate Azimzhan Askarov to life imprisonment with confiscation of property.
The verdict was reported by Sardar Bagishbekov, the President of Voice of Freedom public foundation, at his Twitter. According to him, it took more than one hour to read the conclusion to indict. He also informed that another five life sentences were announced during the same trial. The details are not available yet.
It has to be mentioned that on September 8, the prosecuting official demanded the confiscation of property and life sentence for Askarov.
Azimzhan Askarov was detained on June 16, 2010 on allegations of organizing the inter-ethnic clashes and taken to temporary detention in Bazar-Korgon. On June 17 regional prosecutors initially charged Askarov with participation in mass riots and incitement of ethnic and religious hatred. Askarov denied all charges, saying that he was never involved in the killings and illegal activities during the riots in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Earlier, US embassy in Kyrgyzstan urged to conduct fair investigation of Askarov’s case. Amnesty International also expressed the protest against "the violence during the legal proceedings at Askarov’s case". New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) addressed the open letter to President Roza Otunbaeva of Kyrgyzstan with the request to immediately intervene the legal persecution of Azimzhan Askarov and journalist Ulugbek Abdusalomov, also detained on extremism and separatism charges.
The independent investigation, conducted by CPJ, proved that the official investigation involved multiple violations while the trial had turned into tribunal. CPJ found out that the allegations did not provide the evidences of Askarov’s guilt, did not allow the appropriate access to lawyer, ignored the fact of tortures and did not protect the lawyer from the pressure, put by the family and colleagues of killed police officer.
The local human rights advocates and friends of Askarov believe in unfairness of the trial that looks like the revenge by law enforcement structures. It has to be mentioned that police has been discontent with Askarov’s activities since long ago. During Bakiev’s rule Azimzhan Askarov vigorously protested against the victims of police and judicial despotism.