June 23, 2020 / 9:32 AM / 11 days ago

Kyrgyz ex-president sentenced to 11 years in prison

A supporter of Kyrgyz former President Almazbek Atambayev attends a rally outside the State Committee for National Security, where the court hears an appeal by lawyers of Atambayev, who was arrested and accused of murder, hostage-taking and causing mass unrest, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan August 16, 2019. REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov

BISHKEK (Reuters) - A court in Kyrgyzstan sentenced former president Almazbek Atambayev to 11 years and two months in prison on Tuesday on corruption charges, which he denies.

The court found Atambayev guilty of ordering a convicted criminal released from prison, in a case his supporters have dismissed as driven by a political conflict between Atambayev and his successor, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Atambayev, 63, ran the Central Asian, ex-Soviet republic of 6.5 million people between 2011 and 2017, having previously taken part in revolts that toppled two other Kyrgyz presidents.

He backed then-ally Jeenbekov in the 2017 election but the two fell out shortly after the new president took office.

Police detained Atambayev last August after storming his country house and exchanging fire with his supporters.

Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Gareth Jones

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