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Kazakh Rights Activist To Be Tried For Traffic Fatality

Yevgeny Zhovtis
Yevgeny Zhovtis
ALMATY -- Prominent Kazakh human rights activist Yevgeny Zhovtis will go to trial for his part in a deadly traffic accident, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Zhovtis, the director of Kazakhstan's Bureau on Human Rights, was driving a car that hit and killed a passerby in Almaty Oblast on July 26.

Zhovtis says he was not speeding when the accident happened and that two cars driving toward him on the other side of the road blinded him for several seconds when they switched on their high-beam lights.

His public defender, Vera Tkachenko, told journalists in Almaty that on investigators on August 15 officially asked Zhovtis to stay in Almaty while the investigation continues.

She added that a second forensic test confirmed the presence of alcohol in Zhovtis's blood when the accident occurred. The first forensic test found no alcohol in his blood.

Tkachenko also said that technical experts concluded that Zhovtis could have avoided the accident and that the man was standing near a bus station.

Original reports of the accident said the man who was killed was intoxicated and in the street when he was struck and killed.

Human rights organizations have voiced concerns that Kazakh authorities would use the case against Zhovtis for political reasons.