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Kazakh Officials Says Jailed Activist 'Escaped' Custody, Rights Defenders Concerned


Dulat Aghadil was sentenced to 10-day jail terms several times for staging protests earlier this year.

NUR-SULTAN -- Rights activists in Kazakhstan have voiced concern over a regional police statement claiming that a jailed civil-rights activist, Dulat Aghadil, "escaped custody" just one day before his expected release.

Aghadil's wife, Gulnar Qasymkhanova, and dozens of supporters gathered outside the Prosecutor-General's Office and the Interior Ministry in Nur-Sultan, the capital, after the Akmola police statement was made public, demanding "a detailed and thorough explanation" about Aghadil's whereabouts.

Interior Ministry representative Karim Qasymov told the protesters that Aghadil escaped from the detention center on November 13 through an unlocked door after he was allowed to leave his cell for a short stroll along a corridor.

However, Aghadil's wife, his supporters, and rights activists fear that Aghadil might have been beaten or even killed while in custody. Police and prison guards' cruelty has long been a problem in the Central Asian state.

Aghadil's lawyer, Daniyar Aqtanov told RFE/RL that he had no information about his client's whereabouts.

Aghadil, 42, was sentenced to 10 days in jail on November 4 for refusing to obey police orders. His friends and relatives expected him to be released on November 14, but Qasymov told the protesters that Aghadil had received an additional five days in jail for contempt of court.

Aghadil was sentenced to 10-day jail terms several times for staging protests earlier this year.

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