Kyrgyzstan says ousted leader's son arrested in London

BISHKEK Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:20pm EDT

Maksim Bakiyev, the younger son of ousted Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, attends the opening ceremony of the Central Asian Stock Exchange in Bishkek in this November 25, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov/Files

Maksim Bakiyev, the younger son of ousted Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, attends the opening ceremony of the Central Asian Stock Exchange in Bishkek in this November 25, 2009 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Vladimir Pirogov/Files

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BISHKEK (Reuters) - Maxim Bakiyev, son of Kyrgyzstan's fugitive former president, was arrested in London on Friday at the request of Kyrgyzstan and the United States, which want him "for grave crimes", the Kyrgyz president's office said.

"Because of the absence of an extradition agreement between the Kyrgyz Republic and Great Britain, the British side is now considering the issue of extraditing Maxim Bakiyev to the United States," the presidency said in a statement.

"Maxim Bakiyev is charged with crimes which under U.S. law are punishable with a long term in jail."

British authorities could not immediately confirm the accuracy of the report.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was given shelter by Belarus after crowds of protesters seized his government headquarters in an April 2010 revolt in which about 90 people were killed when security forces opened fire on opposition supporters.

Belarus, run by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, has repeatedly rejected Kyrgyzstan's requests to extradite the former president, who is accused at home of "mass killings" of protesters during the coup.

Maxim Bakiyev, who under his father headed an investment agency, has been accused by the country's new authorities of involvement in large-scale frauds which stripped the impoverished ex-Soviet nation's coffers of millions of dollars.

Shortly after the fall of Bakiyev, Kyrgyzstan made a request to the international police organization Interpol for his son to be detained.

Kyrgyzstan's ties with Belarus have soured in recent months after Minsk also declined to extradite the ex-president's younger brother Zhanybek, who headed his personal security guard and is also accused of committing mass killings.

Kyrgyzstan, a mainly Muslim Central Asian nation of 5.5 million, hosts both U.S. and Russian military air bases and lies on a drug trafficking route out of Afghanistan.

It remains chronically unstable. Two presidents, including Bakiyev, have been toppled since 2005. Some 500 people were killed in interethnic clashes in the country's south in June 2010.

Three opposition nationalist parliamentarians were arrested last Friday and charged with attempting to stage a coup after they led a crowd which tried to storm government headquarters in a protest over a gold mine run by Canadian firm Centerra Gold.

Last week's clashes between police and opposition supporters were the most violent in Bishkek since April 2010, when Bakiyev fled from the same government building to escape popular anger.

(Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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