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Five Men Receive Prison Terms In Deadly Kyrgyz Bride-Kidnapping Case

Aizada Kanatbekova was found dead in a car.
Aizada Kanatbekova was found dead in a car.

BISHKEK -- Five men have been handed prison terms in Kyrgyzstan for their role in a deadly bride-kidnapping case that sparked protests in the Central Asian nation in April over the widespread practice of abducting women for marriage.

Aizada Kanatbekova was kidnapped by a group of men on April 5 and found dead two days later in a car along with the body of one of her abductors, Zamirbek Tengizbaev, who killed himself after strangling her with a T-shirt.

The lawyer for Kanatbekova's family, Nurbek Toktakunov, told RFE/RL that the Birinchi Mai district court in Bishkek on September 14 sentenced Syimyk Moldosariev, Ajikabyl Rysbai Uulu, and Oruzbek Nurumbetov to seven years in prison each, while Zamirbek Ramankulov and Kubanych Tokon Uulu were handed 6 1/2 years in prison for taking part in the kidnapping.

The court also ruled that the five must pay 100,000 soms ($1,200) altogether to the victim's family to compensate moral and material damage caused by the death of the 26-year-old woman.

WATCH: Missing Woman And Kidnapper Found Dead, Setting Off Protests In Kyrgyzstan

Missing Woman And Kidnapper Found Dead, Setting Off Protests In Kyrgyzstan
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Tengizbaev will be tried posthumously on charges of murder and rape, as well as for kidnapping Kanatbekova.

The case shocked Kyrgyzstan, where thousands of bride kidnappings occur each year despite the criminalization of the practice in 2013.

It also put a spotlight on law enforcement's reluctance to pursue such crimes.

Police were sharply criticized for their slow response in the kidnapping even though it was recorded on security cameras with the vehicle's make, model, and license plate clearly visible in the videos.

Relatives of Kanatbekova have labeled the police actions as "casually dismissive," while Toktakunov has 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."

WATCH: Kyrgyz 'Bride Kidnapping' Turns Deadly

Kyrgyz 'Bride Kidnapping' Turns Deadly
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More than 40 police officers, including the Bishkek city police chief, were fired following the tragedy.

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

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

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