AP NEWS

Kyrgyz court confirms life sentence for journalist

January 24, 2017
FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 file photo, ethnic Uzbek journalist Azimzhan Askarov, who has been jailed for life for stirring up ethnic hatred in a case which has drawn international criticism, looks through a metal bars at a courtroom during hearings opened at the regional court in the capital Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The court in Kyrgyzstan upheld a life sentence for Askarov in a case that has drawn international criticism on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Vladimir Voronin, File)

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — A court in Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday upheld a life sentence for an ethnic Uzbek journalist in a case that has drawn international criticism.

Azimzhan Askarov was convicted in 2010 for stirring up ethnic hatred, a charge related to ethnic unrest in the south of Kyrgyzstan in 2010 when more than 450 people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, were killed and tens or even hundreds of thousands were displaced.

The majority of those convicted for taking part in the deadly clashes have been ethnic Uzbeks.

Askarov, who can appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court, shouted out after Tuesday’s decision that he would go on hunger strike in protest.

Askarov’s case was sent for review last year after the U.N. Human Rights Committee in April urged Kyrgyzstan to release him, finding that he had been arbitrarily detained, tortured and denied his right to a fair trial.

Askarov’s lawyer, Tolekan Ismailov, told reporters that his client would appeal the ruling, which he dismissed as unlawful.

Askarov had been documenting human rights violations by the police and prison authorities in his hometown near the Uzbek border for more than 10 years before he was arrested in 2010.