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Relatives Of Slain Kazakh Politician Call Trial 'Farce'

Political allies mourning Altynbek Sarsenbaev in February (RFE/RL) August 15, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Friends and relatives of a slain Kazakh opposition leader have vowed to boycott the trial of 10 men accused of murdering the Naghiz Ak Zhol party's leader, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

Addressing reporters in Almaty today, the party's co-chairman, Tolegen Zhukeev, described the ongoing court hearings as a "farce" and said authorities were not interested in the truth.

Altynbek Sarsenbaev's corpse was discovered along with those of two aides in mid-February.

His brother, Rysbek, accused the National Security Committee of plotting the February killings. "[Judges] are protecting the person who actually commissioned these [murders]. They are protecting those people who are directly involved in the implementation of this murder [plot]," he said.

"I believe those who are directly involved in the crime are not among those who are officially accused today," he added. "The hands of the National Security Committee are stained with blood. It is they who organized this criminal action. It is they who now control the whole trial. This is my personal opinion and I am ready to assume full responsibility for my words."

The 10 defendants in the triple homicide include former Senate official Yerzhan Utembaev and former security officer Rustam Ibragimov.

The state prosecutor has demanded that the two men be sentenced to death and that the other eight defendants receive jail terms of up to 20 years.

The trial has adjourned until August 21.

(with material from Kazakhstan Today)

Kazakhstan's Fallen Opposition

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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