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Presbyterian Pastor On Trial On Extremism Charges in Kazakhstan

Presbyterian pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbaev
Presbyterian pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbaev
ASTANA -- A Presbyterian pastor in Kazakhstan has gone on trial in Astana on extremism charges.

Bakhytzhan Kashkumbaev, 67, was arrested in May 2013 for "inflicting damage" on one of his parishioners through his sermons.

He spent about a month in a psychiatric clinic during his pretrial detention.

In October, Kashkumbaev was released after a court ruled that he could be transferred to house arrest due to his poor health.

But minutes after his release, police rearrested Kashkumbaev on new charges related to alleged extremism.

Kashkumbaev, a Christian convert from Islam, and his supporters insist that the case against him is politically motivated.

Kazakh and international human rights organizations have urged Kazakh authorities to release him.
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