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Terror Trial In Kazakhstan Adjourned After Defendants Cut Themselves

Kenzhebek Abishev (left to right), Almat Zhumaghulov, and Oralbek Omyrov appear in court in Almaty on October 4.
Kenzhebek Abishev (left to right), Almat Zhumaghulov, and Oralbek Omyrov appear in court in Almaty on October 4.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The high-profile trial of three Kazakh men charged with propagating terrorism was adjourned after two of the defendants cut themselves with sharp metal objects in the courtroom in the city of Almaty.

Gulnara Zhuaspaeva, a lawyer for one of the defendants, told RFE/RL that Almat Zhumaghulov and Oralbek Omirov inflicted deep cuts to their arms after the judge rejected the defendants' motion to summon additional witnesses and experts to the stand.

The two defendants received medical treatment before the trial was adjourned until an unspecified date, Zhuaspaeva said.

Zhumaghulov, 44, Omirov, 48, and Kenzhebek Abishev, 52, were arrested in November 2017 and charged with propagating religious extremism and terrorism.

Zhumaghulov was also charged with inciting ethnic hatred.

All three are residents of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city.

Investigators say the three men planned an armed holy war, or jihad, by propagating the ideas of the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement founded by Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Ablyazov, a fugitive tycoon, has been a vocal critic of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and his government.

All three defendants pleaded not guilty when the trial started on October 1 and called the case against them politically motivated.

Only one of them, Zhumaghulov, said he shared the ideas of Ablyazov's DVK, which was branded an extremist organization and banned in Kazakhstan in March.

The Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights considers Zhumaghulov, Omirov, and Abishev political prisoners.

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