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Court Upholds Kazakh Rights Activist's Verdict

Yevgeny Zhovtis appears in court in September.
Yevgeny Zhovtis appears in court in September.
The Almaty Oblast Court in the city of Taldy-Qorghan has upheld the manslaughter conviction of Kazakhstan's leading rights activist, Yevgeny Zhovtis, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Zhovtis, the head of the NGO Bureau for Human Rights, was convicted of hitting and killing a man with his car and sentenced to four years in prison by a district court last month.

Rights activists and opposition leaders in Kazakhstan say the authorities have used the case to retaliate for Zhovtis's professional activities defending human rights in Kazakhstan.

An RFE/RL correspondent reports that Zhovtis' s supporters and journalists were not allowed in the courtroom on the day the verdict was announced. Zhovtis was not present either.

The mother of the victim was allowed to testify. She repeated that she had forgiven Zhovtis for her son's death and wanted him released as soon as possible.

She said that police stopped her several times as she was traveling to testify and that her car was struck by another vehicle in an apparent effort to keep her from reaching the courtroom on time.