Kyrgyz MPs jailed for plotting coup

Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:09pm EDT
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* Mild sentences expose authorities' weakness - analyst

* Crowd outside court hails plotters as national heroes

* Canada's Centerra Gold embroiled in Kyrgyz power struggle

* Authorities claiming damages, new contract from Centerra

By Olga Dzyubenko

BISHKEK, March 29 (Reuters) - A court in Kyrgyzstan sentenced three opposition members of parliament to up to 18 months in jail on Friday for leading a protest the judge said had aimed to seize power by force in the Central Asian nation.

Prosecutors had sought jail terms of up to 10 years for nationalist MPs Kamchibek Tashiyev, Sadyr Zhaparov and Talant Mamytov, who led a crowd which tried to storm government headquarters last October.

The protestors were demanding the renationalisation of the huge Kumtor gold mine, long a bone of contention in the impoverished former Soviet Union state of 5.5 million and run by Canadian firm Centerra Gold.

The clashes between police and supporters of the opposition Ata Zhurt party were the most violent in the capital Bishkek since those that deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2010 in the second revolt since 2005 in the mainly Muslim state.   Continued...