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Kyrgyz Court upholds 18-year jail term for ex-PM

Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sapar Isakov at the expanded meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. (Official Internet Resources of the President of Russia/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The Bishkek city court has upheld a lower court’s sentencing of former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sapar Isakov to 18 years in prison for corruption.

Isakov’s defense lawyer, Bakytbek Avtandil, told RFE/RL that the ruling was announced on August 20 during a session held via video link due to restrictions prompted by the coronavirus.

On June 9, the Birinchi Mai district court found Isakov guilty of misusing state funds allocated for the renovation of Bishkek’s National History Museum and a hippodrome in the northern town of Cholpon-Ata while in office.

That ruling came as Isakov had already been serving a 15-year prison term after being sentenced in December 2019 on corruption charges stemming from his involvement in a 2013 project to modernize the Bishkek Thermal Power Station.

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The Birinchi Mai court sentenced Isakov to 12 years in prison, but the judge said that “in aggregate, taking into account his earlier conviction and prison sentence of 15 years, Isakov shall be sentenced to 18 years in a high-security penitentiary.”

He also ordered Isakov to pay about $3.3 million in fines.

Isakov, 43, served as prime minister for nearly eight months, from August 26, 2017 to April 19, 2018. He denies the charges.

The probes against Isakov and several other high-profile figures were launched amid tensions between former President Almazbek Atambaev and current President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Atambaev himself is currently in prison, serving a sentence of 11 years and two months for the illegal release of notorious crime boss Aziz Batukaev in 2013. He denies the charge.