NUR-SULTAN -- Noted Kazakh rights activist Dulat Aghadil has died while being held in pretrial detention in Nur-Sultan, just one day after being arrested for failing to comply with a court order to report to local police.
The capital's police department said on February 25 that the 43-year-old Aghadil was charged with contempt of court and placed in pretrial detention for the reporting violation.
According to the statement, Aghadil was intoxicated at the time of his arrest late on February 24 and died of heart problems hours later.
Aghadil's friends placed videos on Facebook showing several men in civilian clothes forcing Aghadil out of his house, handcuffing him outside, and taking him away.
After the police statement was released, dozens of Aghadil's supporters gathered in front of the Interior Ministry in Nur-Sultan, demanding detailed information about his death.
The activists blocked a central street near the ministry after officials failed to come out and speak with them, prompting police to violently force several men and women onto buses before whisking them away.
Bakhytzhan Toreghozhina, the head of the Almaty-based human rights foundation Ar.Rukh.Khaq (Dignity, Spirit, Truth), told RFE/RL that Aghadil's lawyer was currently trying to get more details on what transpired.
"Surely, a thorough autopsy by independent experts is necessary to find the truth and exclude possible foul play," Toreghozhina said, adding that official statements from the authorities "are often misleading."
Aghadil was widely known for his civil rights activities. He was sentenced to several days in jail many times for taking part in unsanctioned rallies and resisting arrest. Since August 2019 he had spent at least 60 days in jail.
In November, Aghadil made headlines after he escaped from jail just one day before his expected release. He later explained that he made the move "to protest my illegal arrest."