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Kazakhstan tries policeman amid torture claims

27 april 2012, 13:03
Photo by Indira Mirzabayeva©
Photo by Indira Mirzabayeva©
Kazakhstan put on trial a policeman for abuse of authority Wednesday after a man died in his custody during a crackdown on an oil workers' strike last year that ended in bloody riots, AFP reports.

Bazarbay Kenzhebayev, 50, died of his wounds after he was swept up by police as the Caspian Sea oil town of Zhanaozen descended into violence on December 16 after clashes between policemen and striking oil workers.

The Aktau regional court in the oil-rich Mangistau region started hearing the case against Zhenisbek Temirov, who is accused of illegally holding Kenzhebayev and failing to ensure his hospitalisation, leading to his death.

He was in charge of the local police station's detention centre at the time of the incident and faces a sentence of up to 10 years.

"The trial has begun, the charges were read out and the aggrieved party is giving testimony," a court spokesman told AFP.

The victim's family and rights groups accuse the local police of torturing detainees after conducting a mass security sweep in which dozens were detained.

At least 15 people were killed in the energy-rich state's deadliest violence in its post-Soviet era -- an incident that shook Kazakstan's emerging status as the investor safe haven of the volatile Central Asia region.

Kenzhebayev died of an intestinal rupture and blunt injuries to the stomach several days after his arrest.

The Human Rights Watch organisation said Kenzhebayev had earlier reported being beaten along with other detainees with clubs and tortured in freezing water.

The rights group said Kenzhebayev had been in town visiting his daughter in hospital after she had a baby when he was forced into a police bus.

Another five policemen will go on trial Friday for also overstepping their authority during the riots.

Two parallel trials are already hearing cases against 49 people accused of inciting the riots in Zhanaozen and the nearby village of Shetpe.

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