Over 25 Victims & Police Officer Refuse Claims against Accused in Zhanaozen Trial

Apr 03. MFA

Over 25 Victims & Police Officer Refuse Claims against Accused in Zhanaozen TrialIn the first four days of the Zhanaozen trial, which began in Aktau on March 27, about 25 people out of 40 who testified waived their claims against the defendants, the spokesperson of the Mangistau regional court Nurlan Kuntuov announced at a briefing held on March 30.

The trial on mass disturbances in Zhanaozen and the village of Shetpe on December 16-17 last year involves 37 defendants, 45 witnesses, 13 lawyers, and 6 prosecutors. Over 100 victims and plaintiffs took the stand  since March 27.

According to president of the Civic Alliance of the Mangistau region, Zhaksygul Makhambetova, such a number of waivers could mitigate the sentence of the court.

On March 27, a total of 8 owners, out of 11 testified, of burned down shops waived damages that vary from a few hundred thousand tenge to four million tenge. The owner of a shopping centre heavily damaged in the fire, Bidatpa Zhalgaspayeva, also decided to forgo KZT 50 million damages. Most of the victims that called back their claims against the convicts are going to get reimbursement from the state, however.

The damage caused to the western town of Zhanaozen during the December clashes is estimated at KZT 250 million, the lawyer representing the town administration announced  on March 29. The same day, a representative of the BTA Bank, Marat Tlepov, said the damage caused to the bank’s office in Zhanaozen is estimated at KZT 56 million.

The third day of the trial had Zhanaozen police officers taking the stand as plaintiffs. One of them also waived claims against the defendants, the Tengrinews informed on April 2. “When asked by lawyers whether he recognized any of the defendants, the officer said no and confirmed that he rejects his claims against the accused, requesting to exclude him from the list of victims,” the news agency reported.

On March 30, the presiding judge interrogated four victims and granted the petition of one lawyer to change the previously chosen measure of restraint for his defendant to “house arrest” instead of “arrest,” spokesman Nurlan Kuntuov said at the briefing. The judge also granted the petition of lawyers and defendants to provide time for meetings.

During the hearings on March 28, the court received a petition from one of the parties to ban photographing and use of video and audio recording, as it interfered with the normal course of judicial proceedings. The reporters and observers were allowed to observe the process in an adjacent anteroom via a video feed.

“The participating parties have this right, which meets paragraph 10 of the Regulatory decision of the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan dated December 6, 2002,” Kuntuov said. According to this regulation, photographing and use of video and audio recording during the main proceedings is permitted with the consent of the participants of the process and with the permission of the presiding judge, he said.

The petition was granted in view of participants’ wishes. “As we had previously stated, from the start, the court took a firm stance on transparency and openness of the court proceedings, which was clearly demonstrated during the first day when the photographers were allowed, as well as the use of video and audio recordings,” Kuntuov said.

“In general, we would like to emphasise that in matters of the principle of transparency and openness in criminal proceedings the court system and the legislation of Kazakhstan are guided solely by the rights and interests of participants of a process. More stringent restrictions, standards, and principles are used in international practice, however,” he added.

According to Serik Ospanov, deputy of the Majilis, lower chamber of the Parliament, the hearings are held in an open mode. “Trials are attended by representatives of media and public oranisations. Thus, the Kazakhstan society is able to directly observe the proceedings,” he was quoted by Aktau’s Lada weekly.

The 37 defendants of the Zhanaozen trial are charged with organizing mass disorders, accompanied by violence, arson, destruction of property, acts of violence against representatives of authority, robberies, and thefts.

The mass disturbances in Zhanaozen took place on December 16, followed by riots at the neighbouring station Shetpe on December 17 in the Mangistau region. As a result, 64 people in Zhanaozen received gunshot wounds and 14 were killed. In the course of events in Shetpe, a total of 11 people were injured, one died. In addition, 40 police officers received various bodily injuries.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev declared a state of emergency in Zhanaozen on December 17, which was to last till January 5, but was later extended until January 31.