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KOKSHETAU -- Seven Kazakh prison guards have been found guilty of torturing 26 prisoners last year at a penitentiary in northern Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
In a verdict announced in a court in Kokshetau on June 29, Seilkhan Turmagambetov and Zhaslan Negmetzhanov of the Committee to Control the Penitentiary System (KUIS) in the Aqmola region were each sentenced to five years in prison.
Sentences were also given to KUIS officers Kuanyshbek Shayakhmetov (four
years), Meirbolat Nurgaliev (3 1/2 years), Zhanbolat Kayredenov (three years, and seven months), Askhat Sultanov (three years, eight months), and Kayrat Kaliev (three years, nine months).
Lawyer Ardak Zhanabilova represented one of the victims of the torture.
Zhanabilova -- who is the chairman of the Public Oversight Commission of the Almaty region and a member of the Coaltion Against Torture -- told RFE/RL she is satisfied with the sentences.
She said the KUIS officers were found guilty of torture, abuse of power, and corruption. She added that it will be difficult for them to be released early on parole because of the corruption conviction.
Dariga Asanova, the lawyer for Negmetzhanov, told RFE/RL that her client's guilt was not proven in court and that the witnesses were pressured by the prosecutor's office to make their statements.
She said she will file an appeal against the verdict.
The brother of one of the victims, who gave his name as Arman but did not want to give his family name, told RFE/RL he considered the verdict to be fair.

But he said he fears his brother, who still has to serve 10 months in prison, will receive more ill treatment from other guards as a result of this case.
Arman added that he is afraid the additional charge of "threat of violence against a prison officer, his relatives, or a convict" will be added to his brother's sentence to punish him for winning this case.
On June 21, 2010 a KUIS commission headed by Turmugambetov and Negmetzhanov visited the jail in the village of Stepnoy in the Aqmola region.
The prisoners said that during the visit the commission members tortured and beat them with a conveyor belt and batons for several days.
On July 3, 2010, 14 prisoners self-inflicted deep cuts into their abdomens, arms, and necks saying they could no longer withstand the torture.
Four days later the prosecutor's office in the Aqmola region opened a criminal case against the KUIS officers. During the trial the victims claimed they had been put under pressure by the prosecuted officers.
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