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Kazakh Presbyterian Pastor Given Suspended Sentence


Bakhytzhan Kashkumbaev appears in court in Astana on January 22.
ASTANA -- A court in Astana has handed a suspended sentence of four years in jail to a Kazakh Presbyterian pastor, Bakhytzhan Kashkumbaev.

The court found Kashkumbaev guilty on February 17 of "inflicting damages" on a parishioner through his sermons and communions.

Kashkumbaev, 67, was arrested in May 2013. He spent about a month in a psychiatric clinic during his pretrial detention.

In October 2013, Kashkumbaev was released after a court ruled 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.

Last month, the extremism charges against him were dropped.

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