Kyrgyzstan sentences ex-president, brother in absentia

Updated 12 February 2013
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Kyrgyzstan sentences ex-president, brother in absentia

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan: A Kyrgyz military court on Tuesday sentenced in absentia former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev to 24 years in prison and his brother Janysh to life over a murder of a powerful top official in 2009.
Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was toppled in a bloody 2010 uprising fueled by his family’s rampant corruption during a half decade in power, was convicted of abuse of power by the Bishkek military garrison court.
His brother Janysh, the former head of the state bodyguard service under Bakiyev, was convicted of multiple murder.
Both men fled to Belarus after the 2010 revolution and Minsk has so far refused requests from Bishkek’s new rulers to extradite the pair.
The closed-door trial against them specifically related to the 2009 murder of the former head of the presidential administration Medet Sadyrkulov, a powerful political player known as the “grey cardinal.”
Sadyrkulov was killed in March 2009 in what the pro-Bakiyev authorities blamed on a car accident but which the opposition immediately suspected was murder carried out by forces loyal to the president.
The fact that the bodies of Sadyrkulov and his two dead companions were found in the Lexus jeep with severe burns had immediately raised suspicions about whether an accident was the cause of death.
The investigation found that Sadyrkulov had been personally tortured by Janysh Bakiyev which resulted in the breaking of several bones. He was then found burned to death in the jeep on the highway leading from the Kazakh city of Almaty.
A Kyrgyz man named Omurbek Usmonov had been found guilty of causing the car accident but in April 2010 he was found dead on the outskirts of Bishkek.
Sadyrkulov was believed to be returning from Kazakhstan where he had been collecting millions of dollars to fund an uprising against Bakiyev. The cash has never been found.
After Bakiyev was overthrown in April 2010, the case was reopened and several security officers were jailed in 2012 over their roles in the murder.
The former president has also been charged with mass murder over the fatal shooting by police of dozens of people in the 2010 uprising.


Rohingya refugees rescued after drifting at sea for 9 days

Updated 21 April 2018
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Rohingya refugees rescued after drifting at sea for 9 days

BIREUEN, Indonesia: A Rohingya Muslim man among the group of 76 rescued in Indonesian waters in a wooden boat says they were at sea for nine days after leaving Myanmar, where the minority group faces intense persecution, and were hoping to reach Malaysia.
The eight children, 25 women and 43 men were brought ashore on Friday afternoon at Bireuen in Aceh province on the island of Sumatra, the third known attempt by members of the ethnic minority to escape Myanmar by sea this month. Several required medical attention for dehydration and exhaustion, local authorities said.
Fariq Muhammad said he paid the equivalent of about $150 for a place on the boat that left from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where a violent military crackdown on the minority group has sparked an exodus of some 700,000 refugees over land into neighboring Bangladesh since August.
The refugee vessel was intercepted by a Thai navy frigate and later escorted by a Thai patrol vessel until sighting land, said Fariq. The group believed the Thais understood they wanted to reach Malaysia and were dismayed when they realized they were in Indonesia, said Fariq, who gave the identification numbers of the Thai vessels.
“We were forced to leave because we could not stay, could not work so our lives became difficult in Myanmar. Our identity card was not given so we were forced to go,” he told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Local officials and a charitable group are providing shelter and food for the refugees. The International Organization for Migration said it has sent a team from its Medan office in Sumatra, including Rohingya interpreters, to help local officials with humanitarian assistance.
Rohingya, treated as undesirables in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar and denied citizenship, used to flee by sea by the thousands each year until security in Myanmar was tightened after a surge of refugees in 2015 caused regional alarm.
In April, there has been an apparent increase in Rohingya attempts to leave the country by sea. An Indonesian fishing boat rescued a group of five Rohingya in weak condition off westernmost Aceh province on April 6, after a 20-day voyage in which five other people died.
Just days before, Malaysian authorities intercepted a vessel carrying 56 people believed to be Rohingya refugees and brought the vessel and its passengers to shore.
Mohammad Saleem, part of the group that landed Friday in Aceh, said they left from Sittwe in Rakhine state, the location of displacement camps for Rohingya set up following attacks in 2012 by Buddhist mobs.
“We’re not allowed to do anything. We don’t have a livelihood,” the 25-year-old said. “We can only live in the camps with not enough food to eat there. We have no rights there.”