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Four Men To Face Trial In Deadly Bride-Snatching Case In Kyrgyzstan

Protesters hold up pictures of Aizada Kanatbekova at a demonstration in Bishkek after her death.
Protesters hold up pictures of Aizada Kanatbekova at a demonstration in Bishkek after her death.

BISHKEK -- Four men will face trial in Kyrgyzstan for their role in a deadly bride-snatching case that shocked the Central Asian country in April.

The lawyer for Aizada Kanatbekova's family, Nurbek Toktakunov, told RFE/RL on May 4 that an investigation into the case had been completed and that the materials of the case had been sent to a Bishkek court for trial.

According to Toktakunov, a fifth man, Zamirbek Tengizbaev, will be tried posthumously, as he committed suicide following Kanatbekova's death.

"Tengizbaev will be tried posthumously on charges of murder and rape. An autopsy revealed that the victim was raped. Aizada fought and resisted the assault. Experts found bruises and traces of violence on her arms and legs," Toktakunov said.

Toktakunov also said that he filed papers with the court over the "unprofessional handling of the case" by police and what he called "police attempts to cover up their misdeeds by forging documentation related to the case."

Kanatbekova, 26, was abducted by three men on April 5 and found dead two days later in a car along with the body of her 36-year-old abductor.

Investigators say Tengizbaev strangled Kanatbekova to death with a T-shirt and then killed himself by cutting his carotid artery.

Authorities said at the time that Tengizbaev had been convicted in Russia three times for various crimes.

The case sparked a public outcry as it turned out that police were reluctant to pursue it even though the abduction was recorded on security cameras and the vehicle's make, model and license plate were clearly visible on the recordings.

Relatives of Kanatbekova have described the approach by investigators as "casually dismissive." They say the investigators failed at a crucial juncture as the tragedy unfolded, when the young woman was still alive and able to call them.

More than 40 police officers, including the Bishkek city police chief, were fired following the tragedy.

Fluent in four languages, Kanatbekova was an only daughter and a graduate of the Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University in Bishkek.

Kyrgyzstan sees thousands of "bride kidnappings" each year despite the criminalization of the practice in 2013.

The UN Development Program and rights groups have highlighted the contining prevalence in Kyrgyz society of the practice, which they say often leads to marital rape, domestic violence, and other ills.

One of the most-notorious cases involved the stabbing death in 2018 of 20-year-old university student Burulai Turdaaly Kyzy by a man who was trying to force her into marriage.