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Trial Starts For Kazakh Inmates Accused Of Fake Beating Video

SHAKHTINSK, Kazakhstan -- Four convicts have gone on trial in central Kazakhstan for allegedly faking a video of an inmate being beaten, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

In May, a video clip circulated on YouTube showing a man in a Kazakh prison guard uniform beating an inmate at the AK-159/6 prison in the town of Dolinka. The man being beaten in the clip was identified as inmate Yevgeny Karaush, one of the four on trial.

It's unclear what the specific charges against the four are.

Karaush and several other inmates involved in the incident were later placed in solitary confinement. Some of the inmates were hospitalized in June after slitting open their abdomens to protest the pressure being put on them by prison authorities, some of their relatives told RFE/RL.

Also in June, prisoner Maksim Kozhanov was found hanged in his cell. He was the inmate who filmed the alleged beating. Prison officials said Kozhanov committed suicide "fearing that his prison term might be prolonged."

One prison guard has also been charged with helping the inmates to "fake" the beating. He is accused of providing the inmates with a guard's uniform.

There have been several instances this year of inmates in Kazakh prisons maiming themselves to protest what they say are poor conditions and abuse by prison guards.