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Kazakh Court Upholds Sentence That Triggered Self-Immolation


ASTANA -- The Kazakh Supreme Court has upheld the 10-year jail sentence given to a man whose mother self-immolated herself in protest, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Zhanat Mukhamedzhanov, 19, was found guilty of selling marijuana and sentenced in May to 10 years in jail. His mother, Saule Utepbergenova, protested the verdict by setting herself alight inside the headquarters of the ruling Nur-Otan party in Astana on June 20.

She died in the hospital the next day.

Mukhamedzhanov's sister, Zhuldyz Mukhamedzhanova, told RFE/RL that her mother was very upset that her son "was sentenced to 10 years in jail for less than 12 grams of marijuana found by police in our apartment."

She said it still unclear how the two small bags with drugs were put in their apartment, though she confirmed that her brother did occasionally use marijuana.

Mukhamedzhanov's lawyer, Tursuntai Amralinov, told RFE/RL that he considers his client's verdict too harsh as he had no previous criminal conviction.

Zhumazhan Zhukenov, the Nur-Otan party spokesman in Astana, told RFE/RL that his party did all it could to help Mukhamedzhanov.

He said it was the Nur-Otan party leadership that asked the Supreme Court to review the case, which on November 28 gave its verdict upholding the original sentence.

Zhukenov also said that "unfortunately our party's lawyer was not able to take part in the Supreme Court hearings because he was on a business trip."

Read more in Russian here

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