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Kazakhs Jailed For 'Ties To Suicide Bomber'

The accused in the Aqtobe courtroom on December 14.
The accused in the Aqtobe courtroom on December 14.
AQTOBE, Kazakhstan -- Twelve men have been jailed for up to 15 years by a court in northwestern Kazakhstan after being called "associates of Kazakhstan's first-ever suicide bomber," RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Judge Damesh Abdali of the Aqtobe Oblast interdistrict court found the men guilty of propagating terrorism, organizing a terrorist group, and illegal weapons possession. Prison terms ranged from one to 15 years.

The trial was held behind closed doors. Journalists were only allowed to attend the readings of the verdict and sentence.

Zhumabai Arystanov, a lawyer for one of the convicted men, told journalists he would appeal the verdict.

The court ruled that the 12 defendants belonged to the same unnamed group that Rakhimzhan Makhatov was an active member of.

Makhatov blew himself up in the entrance of the Aqtobe office of the National Security Committee on May 17. Three people were injured in the blast.

The attack is believed to be the first suicide bombing in Kazakhstan.

Read more in Kazakh here