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Convicted Kazakh Police Maim Themselves In Protest

Kazakh police who are incarcerated are protected from potential reprisal attacks.
ZHARMA, Kazakhstan -- Twenty jailed policemen have taken part in an act of self-mutilation to protest their planned transfer to a common prison, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The incident took place on the night of February 1 in the OV-156/17 labor camp in the town of Solnechny, in East Kazkahstan Oblast. It is not clear exactly how the convicted police maimed themselves.

The former police fear they will be incarcerated with criminals they may have originally arrested and will become the special target of abuse. In Kazakhstan and many other former Soviet countries, convicted law enforcement officers and officials are kept in special penitentiaries to avoid harassment and attacks from other inmates.

The labor camp is the only penitentiary for convicted law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and former officials in the region. Last year, five inmates at the camp were transferred to the regular prison in Oskemen, the regional capital.

Their relatives expressed great concern for their safety, which led to authorities bringing them back to the labor camp.