Kyrgyzstan’s former president Sooronbay Jeenbekov has left the Central Asian country, his representative said Tuesday, as investigators consider opening a criminal probe into his role in a crackdown on protesters last year.
Jeenbekov became the third president to be unseated by political unrest in October, paving the way for populist Sadyr Japarov to take power less than two weeks after Japarov’s release from jail.
Japarov, who was inaugurated last week with Jeenbekov in attendance, has previously said that he didn’t see a reason to investigate his predecessor, despite a man dying on the night of October 5 after security services attempted to put down unrest related to a disputed vote.
But the state prosecutor said Tuesday that investigative bodies were considering opening a criminal case on the basis of a complaint against Jeenbekov launched by victims of the police response.
The security committee and the interior ministry would “provide a legal appraisal” of the complaint, the state prosecutor said.
Jeenbekov’s representative Tolgonai Stamaliyeva said that Jeenbekov and his wife had flown out of the country to perform a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the Saudi King.
“The Umrah will last more than 10 days, after that time, Jeenbekov will return to (Kyrgyzstan),” Stamaliyeva said in a statement.
Authorities would not be able to prosecute Jeenbekov without a parliamentary vote to strip him of his immunity.
However, Jeenbekov’s predecessor Almazbek Atambayev saw his immunity stripped by parliament in 2019 during a power struggle between the two men.
Atambayev is now serving an 11-year sentence over his role ensuring the illegal release of a mob boss.
Japarov was serving jail time on hostage-taking charges at the time of the unrest last year but a court reversed the verdict after key powerbrokers backed his leadership bid.
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