31 Jan 2020 15:25

Syrian citizen may have ordered murder of Chinese citizen suspected of smuggling goods from China - Kyrgyz special service

BISHKEK. Jan 31 (Interfax) - A Syrian citizen linked with terrorists is suspected of ordering the murder in Istanbul of Chinese citizen Saimaiti Aierken, who was named by a journalistic investigation as a suspect in the smuggling of Chinese goods to Russia via Kyrgyzstan and the illegal removal of around $700 million from the country, acting director of the Investigative Department of the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security Sagynbek Samidin uulu said.

"The preliminary information available indicates that the killing was ordered by a citizen of Syria and was perpetrated by a citizen of Uzbekistan," he said at a meeting of a parliamentary commission in Bishkek on Friday.

The person who ordered Saimaiti Aierken's murder is involved in terrorist activity, he said. The Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security is collaborating with Turkey as part of this investigation.

On November 21, Radio Azattyk, Radio Liberty's Kyrgyz Service, jointly with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Kloop.kg website, published a journalistic investigation into the smuggling of Chinese goods to Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan via Kyrgyzstan and the illegal removal of around $700 million from the country between 2011 and 2016.

According to Radio Azattyk, Uygur businessmen from China Habibulla Abdukadyr and Saimaiti Aierken, as well as high-ranking Kyrgyz officials, among them Raimbek Matraimov, who served as a senior official of the Osh regional branch of the State Customs Service in 2005-2015, could be involved in money laundering and illegal transfer from Kyrgyzstan and goods contraband through the Osh region in southern Kyrgyzstan.

The investigative journalists said that unknown persons in Kyrgyzstan had repeatedly threatened Saimaiti Aierken, and he had to leave for Turkey in 2017. Journalists of Radio Azattyk and Kloop.kg said that they had also been threatened by unknown in connection with their work.

Saimaiti Aierken was killed in Istanbul on November 10, 2019. The Kyrgyz parliament set up an ad hoc commission to investigate the killing.

The Kyrgyz Prosecutor General's Office opened an attempted murder case and set up an interagency team comprising representatives of the National Security Committee, the Interior Ministry, and the State Service for Combatting Economic Crimes to verify results of the journalistic investigation, including murder threats received by Saimaiti Aierken and certain journalists.

The Kyrgyz media said that Chinese businessman Habibulla Abdukadyr, who was mentioned in the journalistic investigation report, attended the inauguration of President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, who was elected in 2017. Jeenbekov was the governor of the Osh region from 2010 to 2015.