Ex-Kyrgyz Lawmaker Japarov Jailed On Hostage-Taking Charge

BISHKEK -- Former Kyrgyz lawmaker Sadyr Japarov has been sentenced to 11 1/2 years in jail for hostage-taking.

The Birinchi Mai district court in Bishkek found Japarov guilty on August 2 of taking a government official hostage in 2013 and sentenced him the same day.

Japarov has rejected the charges and says they are politically motivated.

Japarov was detained on March 25 upon his return to Kyrgyzstan from three years of self-imposed exile abroad and went on trial on June 6.

He was charged with hostage-taking, making a death threat, hooliganism, and violent assault of a government official.

The charges are linked to Japarov's role in 2013 protests around the Kumtor gold mine by demonstrators demanding that the mine be nationalized.

Japarov, who declares himself an opposition politician, had been a senior member of the government and an adviser to former President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

After Bakiev was ousted in 2010, Japarov became a lawmaker in the Central Asian country's parliament.

In 2013, Japarov was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of attempting to violently seize power after he and two other lawmakers tried to force their way into the presidential palace during a protest.

Just three months after serving his term, Japarov was acquitted and released. He fled Kyrgyzstan later that year after an investigation into the last case was launched against him.