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Bulgaria court keeps Turkmen dissident in detention.

Bulgaria court keeps Turkmen dissident in detention.

Old groundless accusations revived, Khajiev’s case is purely political, Bulgarian authorities want revenge for defeat in court 4 years ago - W A Bulgarian court ruled on Thursday to keep an arrested Turkmen opposition activist in detention for another 40 days before it decides whether to extradite him.

The district court in the Black Sea city of Varna where Annadurdy Khajiyev, a senior member of the exiled Watan party, was detained on Feb. 19, said he was wanted by Interpol after Turkmenistan accused him of misappropriating $20 million.

"The court decided to keep Khajiyev for 40 days ... He has been accused of misappropriation of large sums of money from the national bank of his country," the court said in a statement.

The court said it will wait for an official request by Turkmenistan demanding Khajiyev’s extradition and then decide whether it has solid reasons.

This is the second time Khajiyev has been arrested in Bulgaria, which joined the European Union this year. In 2003, the Balkan country refused to extradite him fearing he could be persecuted politically.

Supporters of Khajiyev called on Brussels on Wednesday to put pressure on Bulgaria and prevent his extradition to the authoritarian Central Asian state which has cracked down on the opposition and independent journalists.

Reuters February 22, 2007

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