Jail terms in Kazakhstan riot trial

Rights groups say the trial not conducted fairly as 13 people receive jail terms for December's riots.

    A court in Kazakhstan has jailed more than a dozen people for mounting mass riots in a western oil town last year at the
    end of a trial in the Central Asian nation.

    Thirteen people were sentenced on Monday to between three and seven years in jail for their involvement in the unrest, during which at least 14 people died.

    A further 16 people on trial were granted conditional sentences, five were granted amnesty and three were acquitted.

    Al Jazeera's Robin Forestier-Walker, reporting from Aktau in Kazakhstan, said that rights groups have taken issue with how evidence was collected for the case.

    "Human Rights Watch has strongly criticised the way this trial was conducted because of the numerous allegations of torture by the defendants and by the witnesses," he said.

    The government said it has "given a good account of itself, that its been even-handed in its justice ... but many believe here that [the trial] has had a very political element to it, that anyone, effectively, who has dared to challenge this government, as happened back in December, can expect very severe consequences."

    The unrest in Zhanaozen in December came after a seven-month-long occupation of the main square by oil workers demanding higher salaries. A confrontation with police descended into rioting.

    Five policemen were jailed last month after being found to have exceeded their authority in deploying live rounds against rioters.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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