Kazakh ex-defense minister gets 12 years over 2022 deadly riots

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A Kazakhstan court sentenced a former defense minister to 12 years in jail for his handling of deadly riots in 2022, the Central Asian country’s official news agency said Thursday.

Murat Bektanov was defense minister when nationwide protests against fuel prices erupted in January last year. They were brutally crushed and 238 people died, according to the official toll.

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Bektanov was arrested in February 2022 and investigated for alleged dereliction of duty during what was the worst violence in the former Soviet republic’s history.

Kazinform news agency reported that a court martial in February had convicted Bektanov of abuse of power in a combat situation.

In January, the advocate general had accused Bektanov of not doing enough to shield Almaty, the country’s largest city, its economic center and the epicenter of the violence.

“He issued several illegal orders, including refusing to deploy soldiers to protect government buildings,” Kazinform reported the advocate general as saying.

“This resulted in people being killed by criminals and towns being looted and burned,” he continued.

“Mr Bektanov was sentenced to 12 years and will serve his sentence in a maximum-security prison,” said Kazinform.
Few details were available about the case, which has been classified.

During the riots, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered security forces to “shoot to kill” demonstrators and asked Moscow to send troops to help quell the unrest.

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