Kyrgyz police arrest 17 over murder of leading opposition figure
The Kyrgyz government on Wednesday said 17 people have been arrested in connection with the murder of a leading opposition figure and accused the former president's brother of involvement, the Interfax news agency reported.
Interior Minister Zarylbek Rysaliyev said there was incriminating evidence against the brother of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in the March 13, 2009 murder of Medet Sadyrkulov, according to the report.
Zhanybek Bakiyev conspired with senior members of the country's security agencies and organized crime bosses to arrange Sadyrkulov's killing in a road accident, he said, DPA reported.
Sadyrkulov was a leading critic of Bakiyev at the time. His death stripped the opposition of a charismatic leader and was seen to ease the president's re-election in July 2009.
Zhanybek Bakiyev was head of the national state security agency while his brother was president. His critics allege he ordered troops to fire on protesters in April 2010, killing dozens and touching off the mass protests that led to Bakiyev's ousting.
The 17 suspects reportedly include army officers, national intelligence service agents, senior members of the police and suspected mobsters.
All were cooperating with interrogators, Rysaliyev was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Authorities will seek an international warrant for Zhanybek Bakiyev's arrest and extradition, Rysaliev said.
The arrests are the widest-ranging yet in a campaign by the current government to prosecute what it has called illegal acts by the Bakiyev regime.
Provisional president Roza Otunbayeva has set establishing rule of law as a top priority for her administration. The crackdowns have hit Bakiyev's relatives and allies particularly hard.
Presidential elections are scheduled for the end of October.
Kurmanbek Bakiyev and some of his relatives are living in exile in Belarus. Rysaliev said police believed Zhanybek Bakiyev to be in exile "outside of the country," without giving details.
Kurmanbek Bakiyev has denied wrongdoing and has said he still considers himself Kyrgyzstan's legitimate leader.