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Kazakh Protestant Convert Facing Incitement Charges

ASTANA -- A court in Astana has begun hearing the case against a Kazakh Christian convert charged with inciting religious hatred.

Yqylas Qabduaqasov, 54, an active member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, was brought to the courtroom on October 9 in handcuffs.

Saryarqa District Court Judge Aqmaral Isaeva allowed journalists to film only three minutes of the trial's start and then banned any recording devices in the courtroom.

Several witnesses in the case testified that Qabduaqasov expressed ideas during Bible study sessions that sounded insulting to Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad.

Qabduaqasov, who was arrested in mid-August, pleaded not guilty. He could face up to 10 years in jail if convicted.