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Kazakh guard sentenced to life for mass border killing

12 december 2012, 11:27
0
Vladislav Chelakh. Photo by Vladimir Prokopenko©
Vladislav Chelakh. Photo by Vladimir Prokopenko©
Chelakh's attorney Zhumagaisha Sarjanova. Photo by Vladimir Prokopenko©
Chelakh's attorney Zhumagaisha Sarjanova. Photo by Vladimir Prokopenko©
The Judge, Erbol Ahmetzhanov. Photo by Vladimir Prokopenko©
The Judge, Erbol Ahmetzhanov. Photo by Vladimir Prokopenko©
A court in Kazakhstan Tuesday sentenced a border guard to life in prison for murdering 14 fellow servicemen in a mysterious May massacre in the remote Tian Shan mountains, AFP reports.

Vladislav Chelakh was convicted of the mass murder at Kazakhstan's Arkankergen post on the border with China, as well as a string of lesser charges, and will serve his life sentence in a strict penal colony, the judge in Taldykorgan city court said.

Chelakh, the sole survivor of the killings that left 14 guards and a huntsman dead, had initially confessed to the murders. He subsequently retracted his confession, saying it had been made under psychological pressure.

The court on Tuesday also ordered Chelakh to pay 25 million tenge ($166,000) to some of the victims' families.

A military tribunal in Taldykorgan also on Tuesday sentenced Alexei Fomin, the border officer responsible for the Arkankergen post, to three years in prison.

Chelakh's mother Svetlana Vashchenko said she will appeal the verdict and called it unfair. "They simply put a child in jail," she told journalists.

The 20-year-old defendant, who previously tried to cut his wrists open in court and attempted to hang himself in the detention center, looked calm on Tuesday, and was quickly escorted out of the courtroom by security.

He had denied his involvement in the murders and said that the post was shot at by hostile unidentified people in civilian clothes, while he was the only one who could escape.

His defence has called the case against Chelakh an attempt to cover up an attack on the remote post due to failings by the officials to protect it.

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