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Suspect In High-Profile Kazakh Killings Pleads Not Guilty

  • RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

Sayan Khayrov (left) appears in Kazakh court on October 16

Sayan Khayrov (left) appears in Kazakh court on October 16

ALMATY -- A suspect in a mass-murder case in Kazakhstan has pleaded not guilty in the killings of 11 people in a national park near Almaty.

The trial started in Almaty on October 17.

Sayan Khairov is charged with involvement in the murders and with illegally crossing the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border.

He confessed on illegal border-crossing charges but said he was not in Kazakhstan when the killings took place.

In August 2012, the bodies of 11 people -- forest rangers and family members -- were found in Ile-Alatau National Park.

Officials said several suspected Islamist terrorists subsequently killed by security forces near Almaty could have been involved in the killings.

Khairov was captured later and accused of being part of the group.

One more suspect allegedly involved in the massacre, Zaurbek Botabaev, remains at large.