BISHKEK -- A man in Kyrgyzstan's southern region of Jalal-Abad has been freed from custody despite being found guilty of severely beating and torturing his wife in a case that became widely known after a video showing the beating went viral last month.
In following new sentencing guidelines that were part of a 2019 reform package that criminalized domestic violence, the judge handed the man a two-year suspended sentence, with a warning that if he breaks the law the sentence can be turned into a two-year prison term.
The unidentified 51-year-old resident of the Suzak district was arrested in mid-June after a video circulated on the Internet showing him beating and pouring buckets of water on his shaken wife who cried as she stood outside with two car tires hanging from a rope around her neck.
As the man abused the woman, he gave instructions to another woman, apparently a relative, to "properly" film the scene.
Rights activists decried the sentence saying it sends the wrong message to offenders.
"Impunity for domestic violence: that's the message a two-year suspended sentence...sends," Mihra Rittmann, senior Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, wrote on Twitter on July 2.
"Strengthening laws for dv (domestic violence) is a start, but if courts won't sanction abusers caught on tape? Ugh," she added.
The woman being abused in the video, who was hospitalized after the incident, originally filed a lawsuit against her husband, who was arrested days later.
But police said the woman later withdrew her suit, saying that she had forgiven her spouse. Local prosecutors, however, refused to close the case.
Kyrgyz authorities have been trying to curb domestic violence in the country for years.
The Interior Ministry said earlier this year that almost 6,145 domestic violence cases had been registered in 2019 but only 649 resulted in criminal cases.