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Kazakh Crime Suspect Dies In Unclear Circumstances

Anara Ibraeva, chairwoman of the Astana branch of Kazakhstan's Bureau for Human Rights, says official explanations of Dmitry Rakishev's death have been inconsistent.
STEPNOGORSK, Kazakhstan -- Human rights activists and relatives of a robbery suspect found dead in a pretrial detention center in central Kazakhstan say he may have died of torture, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The official autopsy report issued on May 10 by medical expert Olzhas Smaghulov said Dmitry Rakishev, 21, died of pneumonia and possible tuberculosis. He was found dead on May 8 in the town of Stepnogorsk.

Rakishev's father, Ashim Rakishev, said he had not seen his son's body. But he quoted medical personnel who did see it as saying it bore signs of torture.

Colonel Gulnara Pinchuk, spokeswoman for the head of the Aqmola Oblast Interior Ministry, told RFE/RL that Rakishev had pancreatitis and tuberculosis, was a registered drug addict, and had two broken ribs from a fall from his bunk bed in jail.

She said the staff at the detention center had nothing to do with his death.

Ashim Rakishev said he doubted his son died of natural causes. He said that on May 7 he was rushed to a city hospital, where he was examined by surgeon Erlan Shaghadatov. It's not known why Rakishev was taken to the hospital.

Shaghadatov confirmed to RFE/RL that he examined Rakishev on May 7. He said he did not find any problems with him and he was taken back to the detention center. Shaghadatov declined to discuss it further.

Anara Ibraeva, chairwoman of the Astana branch of Kazakhstan's Bureau for Human Rights, says the case is very worrisome, as official explanations of Rakishev's death have been inconsistent.

Ibraeva says this is not the first time an inmate has died in a Kazakh penitentiary with broken bones or a fractured skull, while the official autopsy gives the cause of death as cancer, tuberculosis, or pneumonia.

Ashim Rakishev said he had filed complaints with the prosecutor-general and Kazakh ombudsman Asqar Shakirov.

Read more in Kazakh here