Kyrgyzstan demands US hand over airman

Kyrgyzstan has demanded the US hand over for trial an Air Force serviceman who shot dead a Kyrgyz truck driver in December at the Manas airbase. The Kyrgyz government threatened to review its agreement with the US on the use of the base, where US troops have been operating since 2001. The US maintains the troops enjoy similar status to diplomats and cannot be prosecuted by Kyrgyz courts. US officials say the truck driver threatened the airman with a knife at a Manas checkpoint. The serviceman shot him twice in the chest. US officials said the airman “used deadly force in response to a threat”. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who has demanded more rent for the Manas base, said the airman should not leave the country until an investigation has taken place. (Reuters, March 19)

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