KEK (AFP) - Kyrgyz authorities on Monday said they had arrested an opposition leader and former govt minister for alleged involvement in the shooting death of a Turkish citizen in 2007.
The arrest followed several previous criminal cases launched against opponents of the Central Asian state's government.
Kyrgyzstan's interior ministry said ex-foreign minister Alikbek Dzhekshenkulov, now leader of opposition movement For Justice, had been arrested after a gun belonging to him was found to have been used in the murder of a Turkish citizen.
"A bullet recovered during a survey of the scene of the murder of Turkish citizen Servet Chetin was fired from a pistol belonging to Alikbek Dzhekshenkulov," the ministry said in a statement.
Two shell casings and a gun were found at the crime scene in the northwestern city of Talas and analysis proved the gun belonged to the ex-minister, the statement said.
But opposition leaders said that the arrest of Dzhekshenkulov, an outspoken critic of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was politically motivated and linked to other recent government attempts to silence dissent.
The ex-minister has been harassed by the government, they said, adding that this had led his son to seek political asylum in the United States.
"Dzhekshenkulov was never involved in business at all and on that day was not even in Talas," his party said in a press release.
Two prominent opposition journalists have been severely attacked recently and the Kyrgyz government last week barred a prominent Russian human rights worker from entering the country.
Vitaly Ponamaryov, regional head of Russian human rights group Memorial, was turned away at Manas airport and declared persona non grata after the group published a report critical of the government.