Former Kyrgyz leader's son sentenced in absentia for graft

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 27, 2013 12:42 PM
Former Kyrgyz leader's son sentenced in absentia for graft

BISHKEK (Reuters) - A court in Kyrgyzstan has sentenced the son of fugitive former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to 25 years in absentia for corruption, the prosecutor general's office said on Wednesday.

Maksim Bakiyev, who, like his father, fled the central Asian country after a popular uprising in April 2010, now lives in Britain, where he is already awaiting possible extradition to the United States on fraud charges.

Bakiyev junior, who headed Kyrgyzstan's state agency for development, investment and innovation when his father was in power, was found guilty of complicity in corruption and signing a deal "running counter to Kyrgyzstan's interests", the general-prosecutor's office said in a statement.

It gave no further detail.

Russia's Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed prosecutor as saying Maksim Bakiyev's activities cost the state $130 million.

He was arrested in London in October in connection with U.S. fraud charges. He has since been released on bail and proceedings adjourned until May.

Lawyers for Bakiyev have said he is innocent of both corruption in Kyrgistan and fraud in the United States.

In February, Kyrgyzstan sentenced his father to 24 years in prison in absentia for abuse of office, and handed a life term to Kurmanbek Bakiyev's brother Zhanysh, the former head of the president's security service, for murder and other crimes.

The two brothers now live in exile in Belarus, whose authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has refused to extradite them.

About 90 people were killed when security forces opened fire on opposition protesters during the April 2010 revolt when crowds stormed and seized Bakiyev's government headquarters.

Kyrgyzstan, a mainly Muslim nation of 5.5 million people which hosts both U.S. and Russian military air bases, is struggling to build the first parliamentary democracy in central Asia.

Violent revolts have deposed two Kyrgyz presidents since 2005. About 500 people were killed in ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010.

(Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Jason Webb)