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Kazakh Prosecutor Seeks Death For Sarsenbaev Defendants

A rally in memory of Altynbek Sarsenbaev in Almaty in February (RFE/RL) August 10, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A state prosecutor today demanded that Erzhan Utembaev and Rustam Ibragimov, two key suspects in the murder trial of opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbaev, be sentenced to death for their alleged roles in the crime, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

Vladimir Kirilenko also demanded that Utembaev's and Ibragimov's property be confiscated, and that the other eight defendants in the trial be sentenced to jail terms of between seven and 20 years.

Naghiz Ak Zhol opposition party leader Sarsenbaev was found dead on February 13, along with a bodyguard and a driver.

Opposition leaders say they believe Sarsenbaev's assassination was political and commissioned by high-ranking government officials.

Utembaev, the main defendant at the trial, was heading the Senate's administration at the time of the killing.

He was said to have admitted to ordering the murder in a letter to President Nursultan Narzarbaev but later recanted that purported confession.

Kazakhstan introduced a moratorium on executions in December 2003.

(with additional reporting by Interfax-Kazakhstan and Kazakhstan Today)

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