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CPJ condemns decision of Kyrgyz Supreme Court on Azimzhan Askarov's case

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the decision of the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan upholding Azimzhan Askarov’s life sentence. Statement of the organization in response to the decision by Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court to uphold journalist and human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov’s life sentence and deny his final appeal says.

«Azimzhan Askarov has been jailed for nearly a decade in retaliation for his investigative reporting, and the court decision denying his final appeal shows that Kyrgyz authorities still have not reckoned with the injustice of his imprisonment,» said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said. «Askarov will soon turn 69 years old, and his health has been poor behind bars; this life sentence is brutal treatment for an elderly journalist who should be free to work and live peacefully with his family.»

The Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan did not send the case of the sentenced to life in prison Azimzhan Askarov for review due to newly discovered evidence. Thus, the appeal of Askarov’s lawyers was denied.

On December 2, 2019, the Supreme Court decriminalized a number of counts and commuted the punishment of the human rights defender under certain articles. However, the main article of the charge «Complicity in Murder» of the Criminal Code, under which Azimzhan Askarov received the life sentence, remained.

Azimzhan Askarov is accused of inciting ethnic hatred and murder of a policeman during the June events in the south of the republic in 2010.