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Convicted Killer Of Kazakh Politician Sentenced To Death --> Altynbek Sarsenbaev, the murdered leader of the Naghiz Ak-Zhol party (RFE/RL) PRAGUE, August 31, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- One of the two key defendants in the murder trial of opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbaev has been sentenced to death.

Rustam Ibragimov is a former security officer.

The court sentenced the second main defendant, a former official in the Senate administration, Erzhan Utembaev, to 20 years in jail.

Another eight people received prison terms of between three and 20 years.

Kazakhstan introduced a moratorium on executions in December 2003.

The Sarsenbaev murder trial began on June 14 in Taldy-Qorgan, some 250 kilometers north of Almaty.

Sarsenbaev's relatives and supporters believe the assassination in February of the Naghiz Ak-Zhol opposition party leader, his bodyguard, and his driver was commissioned by higher-ranking state officials.

They have called the trial "a farce" and vowed to proceed with their own investigation into the triple murder.

Kazakhstan's Fallen Opposition
Slain Kazakh journalist Askhat Sharipzhanov (undated RFE/RL file photo)

February 13, 2006: Altynbek Sarsenbaev -- a leader of the Kazakh opposition, co-chairman of the Naghyz Aq Zhol party, former minister of information, former Kazakh ambassador to Russia, former secretary of Kazakhstan's Security Council -- is found dead with his bodyguard and his driver, shot to death, execution style, with their hands bound behind their backs.

November 11, 2005: Zamanbek Nurkadilov-- prominent Kazakh politician, former mayor of Almaty, former Minister of Extraordinary Situations, and since a vocal critic of President Nursultan Nazarbaev since March 2004 -- is found shot to death, with two shots in his chest and one in his head. Kazakh authorities officially rule the case a suicide.

June 2, 2005: Batyrkhan Darimbet -- opposition journalist and editor in chief of the weekly AZAT -- is killed in what is officially reported as a traffic accident. Relatives and activists assert that it was a political killing.

December 19, 2004: Erzhan Tatishev -- head of Kazakhstan's largest bank, TuranAlemBank -- is killed in what was officially described as a hunting accident. Kazakh political observers allege that it was a premeditated assassination.

July 20, 2004: Askhat Sharipzhan-- independent journalist and political commentator for NAVI online -- dies of injuries sustained several days earlier in what was officially reported as a hit-and-run accident. Relatives and colleagues believe it was an assassination.

November17, 2002: Independent journalist Nuri Muftakh is killed in what is officially reported as a traffic accident. Colleagues and activists regard the death as suspicious.

January 4, 2002: Human rights activist Aleksei Pugaev is found dead, the victim of a hit-and-run car accident. Colleagues regard the circumstances as suspicious and no one is ever arrested in connection with the death.

(compiled by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service)


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