Kyrgyz ex-president's son sentenced to 25 years absentia

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AFP) - A Kyrgyz court has sentenced in absentia the once feared son of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev to 25 years in prison on corruption charges, prosecutors said on Wednesday, vowing to ensure his extradition from exile in Britain.

Maxim Bakiyev, then known as "The Prince", was the head of Kyrgyzstan's development agency but was also seen as one of the closest confidants of his father who was ousted from power in a bloody uprising in 2010.

In a closed-door trial, the Pervomaisky district court of Bishkek convicted Maxim Bakiyev of corruption over deals signed while he was head of the development agency that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for the state.

Confirming the verdict, the general prosecutors said they would "continue work to obtain his extradition to Kyrgyzstan". Maxim Bakiyev, who was believed to have been one of the country's richest men, was last year arrested in Britain over a separate US fraud case on the request of the American authorities.

But he was released on bail and is expected to face a new extradition hearing in May.

His father, the former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has also been convicted in absentia but has taken refuge in Belarus which has so far shown little inclination to extradite him back to Kyrgyzstan.

A Kyrgyz military court in February sentenced in absentia Kurmanbek Bakiyev to 24 years in prison over the murder of a powerful top official in 2009.

The ex-president's brother Janysh, who was head of the presidential bodyguard service and is also believed to be in Belarus, was sentenced to life in jail in the case.

Bakiyev was toppled in an uprising fuelled by his family's rampant corruption and flagrant nepotism during a half decade in power.

The former president has also been charged with mass murder over the fatal shooting by police of dozens of people in the 2010 uprising.