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Four Kazakh Prison Officials May Face Trial Over Inmate Death

Ruslan Ozdoev (left), the brother of the dead inmate, waged a public campaign to have brother Shamil Yaroslavlev's death recategorized from "natural causes."
QARAGHANDY, Kazakhstan -- Four prison officials in central Kazakhstan may face trial in connection with the death of a prisoner after a campaign for justice by the dead man's brother, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Shamil Yaroslavlev died on November 3 in the town of Dolinka's AK-159/7 labor camp.

His brother, Ruslan Ozdoev, told RFE/RL that he was buried on November 27, 24 days after his death. Ozdoev said a second autopsy was performed on his brother's body on November 26 after Kazakhstan's prosecutor-general ruled last week that the conclusion from the original autopsy suggesting that Yaroslavlev died of natural causes was wrong.

Ozdoev said that when his brother's body was handed over to his relatives earlier this month, it bore numerous signs of abuse and torture. He said he took photos of the corpse and sent them to the Prosecutor-General's Office.

On November 18, the cause of death was amended from "natural causes" to "misuse of power."

Ozdoev also said that on November 26 a court in Qaraghandy, the regional capital, ruled that four penitentiary officials should be arrested as suspects in the case: the penitentiary's chief of internal order and discipline department, the warden's aide, the chief of the solitary confinement unit, and a guard.

Ozodev added that "in fact, many more officers may have been involved in my brother's killing."

Manarbek Bekshin, who heads the regional department for control of the penitentiary system, declined to comment to RFE/RL regarding the case.

Meanwhile, Koshzhan Kengpeyli, a spokesman for the Qaraghandy chief prosecutor, confirmed that the court has ordered the arrest of the four officers but could not say whether they have been taken into custody.

Read more in Kazakh here