The high-profile bribery trial of Kyrgyz opposition leader Omurbek Tekebaev has been adjourned until August 15.
At the August 14 hearing in Bishkek, Tekebaev spoke to the court about his contribution to Kyrgyzstan’s economy and stability while serving as parliament speaker and deputy prime minister.
His statement lasted until late in the evening and the judge had to adjourn the hearing until the next day.
Tekebaev is the leader of the opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party, which says the trial is a politically motivated effort to keep him out of a presidential vote this autumn.
Tekebaev and his co-defendant, former Emergency Situations Minister Duishonkul Chotonov, are charged with receiving a $1 million bribe from a Russian businessman in 2010, when Tekebaev was deputy prime minister.
Both deny any wrongdoing.
On August 10, the prosecutor at the trial asked the judge to sentence Tekebaev to 10 years and Chotonov to eight years in prison if they were convicted.
Ata-Meken has alleged that the government launched the case in an effort to stifle dissent ahead of the October 15 presidential election in the Central Asian country and keep Tekebaev off the ballot.
Tekebaev was arrested in late February. On March 5, Ata-Meken named him as its candidate for the presidential election.