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Kyrgyzstan demands handover of U.S. soldier who shot civilian

RIA Novosti

21/03/2007 11:29 BISHKEK, March 21 (RIA Novosti) - The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry has formally asked that a U.S. serviceman accused of killing a civilian be turned over to the Prosecutor's Office, the ministry said Wednesday.

Alexander Ivanov, 42, a driver at the fuel supply company Aircraft Petroleum Management and a father of two, was shot dead December 6 by an airman, Zachary Hatfield, while undergoing a routine security check at the Manas airbase.

The ministry said the official request was passed to the U.S. side during consultations between the two states on a possible joint investigation into the fatal shooting.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev demanded earlier that American servicemen stationed in the country be stripped of diplomatic immunity.

Kyrgyzstan's parliament previously recommended that the government consider closing the U.S. airbase in the Central Asian country's capital, Bishkek.

Manas is the only U.S. base in post-Soviet Central Asia since Uzbekistan evicted American troops from its territory last year. Kyrgyzstan recently raised the leasing fee for the Manas base from the current $2.6 million to $150 million as of 2007.

The airbase command, which the United States has maintained in Kyrgyzstan since its anti-terrorism campaign in neighboring Afghanistan began in 2001, said earlier the U.S. airman who killed the Kyrgyz national acted in self-defense and in accordance with security instructions, a claim disputed by Ivanov's colleagues.

President Bakiyev previously asked the U.S. to ensure that the accused serviceman remain in the country until the end of the investigation being conducted by U.S. officials and Kyrgyz prosecutors.

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