Former Kazakh minister gets 24 years in prison for murdering his wife

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A former economy minister of Kazakhstan was sentenced to 24 years in prison on Monday for murdering his wife, a Reuters reporter in the court said, following a widely watched trial that some see as a litmus test of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s promise to build a fairer, more equitable society.

Shocking footage played during the trial that began in March showed Kuandyk Bishimbayev, 44, repeatedly kicking and punching a slender young woman wearing only a coat and boots, and dragging her around by her hair.

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The woman, 31-year-old Saltanat Nukenova, was later found dead. Bishimbayev has pleaded not guilty and has argued in court that his wife died from self-sustained injuries.

Bishimbayev, who served as economy minister from May-December 2016, was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison for bribery, but walked free after less than three years thanks to an amnesty and parole.

Kazakhstan, an oil-rich nation of 20 million people, has seen numerous other examples of members of the elite getting away with various crimes, a trend that has fed public distrust of the legal system.

Domestic violence has become a hot-button issue in Kazakhstan, where government data show that one in six women has experienced violence by a male partner.

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