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Convict Avoids Prison After Swearing Loyalty To Kazakh President

PAVLODAR, Kazakhstan -- A court in Kazakhstan has convicted a former governor of financial crimes but released him from custody after he asked forgiveness from President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

The court in the northern city of Pavlodar found former Pavlodar governor Erlan Aryn guilty of money laundering, financial fraud and bribe-taking in a ruling issued on November 26.

But he walked free from the courtroom after receiving a three-year suspended sentence.

Aryn, who spent nine months in pretrial detention, pleaded not guilty.

But he apologized to Nazarbaev in a final statement on November 25, saying he "failed" the president but remains totally loyal.

Kazakh political observer Rasul Zhumaly told RFE/RL that Aryn's statement of loyalty probably helped him avoid prison.

There have been several cases in which former top Kazakh officials received lengthy prison terms but were released after serving only a small portion of the sentences.

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