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Anger at Islamic Demo Convictions Continues

Relatives and supporters of some of those convicted after a Muslim protest in the southern Kyrgyz town of Nookat last October say sentences were handed down to people who were not even there at the time, and the court was not presented with all the eviden
Thirty-two people were convicted of deliberately provoking unrest after an October 1 demonstration in the town centre got out of control. The protesters were angry with the local authorities’ decision not to hold a celebration of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Officials say the accused were members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an Islamic group.

As well as concerned relatives, reporter Janar Akaev spoke to Jenish Sharshenbaev, public relations chief of the Osh police, who said video recordings of the unrest were used to identify ringleaders, and these positive IDs accounted for the bulk of those arrested subsequently and all of those convicted.

While police say the jail terms of up to 20 years that were handed down fitted the crime, relatives say they were excessively punitive. Some plan to appeal to President Kurmanbek Bakiev to review the case; and if that fails, to stage protests in the capital Bishkek.

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