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Kazakh Court Orders Authorities To Free Some Zhanaozen Convicts


President Nursultan Nazarbaev (second from right) meeting with officials in the region a week after the deaths in Zhanaozen in December 2011.
ASTANA -- The appeals board of the Kazakh Supreme Court has ordered the release of six people convicted for their roles in the 2011 mass disturbances in Kazakhstan’s southwestern town of Zhanaozen.*

The court commuted three-year jail terms to two-year suspended sentences in the case on May 28.

At least 16 people were shot dead during a police crackdown on an oil workers' protest in Zhanaozen in December 2011.

In June 2012, more than a dozen people were sentenced to jail terms of between three and seven years for inciting the Zhanaozen disturbances.

Five Zhanaozen police officials and the former warden of a detention center were sentenced to jail terms of between five and seven years for abuse of authority during the riots.

In October, opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison for inciting the disturbances.

*CORRECTION: This story initially suggested that the six defendants had been released, when in fact the court merely rendered its verdict on May 28. They were released on June 1.
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