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Former Mongolia president sentenced to four years in prison

Former president of Mongolia [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] Nambar Enkhbayar was convicted Wednesday on graft charges and sentenced to four years in prison. The Sukhbaatar district court also ordered the confiscation [Bloomberg report] of more than 30 million tugriks (USD $22,206) of Enkhbayar's property. Enkhbayar, who maintains his prosecution is politically-motivated, was arrested in April and charged with corruption and abuse of power during his time as president. Specific charges against the former president included stealing a donation of $113,000 in television equipment meant to go to a Buddhist monastery in 2000 and not paying duties to ship books that he authored from South Korea to Mongolia. Enkhbayar went on a 10-day hunger strike in May to protest his detention on corruption charges, was hospitalized and then released on bail. President Tsakhia Elbegdorj has denied that Enkhbayar's arrest was political. Two men judged to be Enkhbayar's accomplices also received prison sentences. Enkhbayar has 10 days to appeal to the Ulan Bator city court, and then possibly the Supreme Court.

Enkhbayar lost the presidential election [JURIST report] in 2009 when Mongolia Democratic Party [party website, in Mongolian] candidate Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj [Taipei Times profile] defeated him in the country's general election. Educated in the US, Elbegborj ran on a platform of fighting corruption and redistributing profits from the country's mining operations to Mongolian residents. Enkhbayar's Communist Party had originally refuted claims that Elbegdorj had won the election but later accepted the results [BBC report]. In 2008, Enkhbayar declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] following protests against the results of parliamentary elections in the country. At least five people were killed and more than 700 people were detained as a result of the protests. The Democratic Party had called for new elections [Reuters report] because of alleged fraud, but Enkhbayar has said that both parties have agreed to address the riots under established law [Xinhua report].

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