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The court in Aktau: chronology of events 27.03.2012-19.04.2012

The Open Dialog Foundation continues to monitor the situation in Aktau, where hearings on the case of the riots on December 16-17 in Zhanaozen have been carried out. This document provides a brief chronology of the trial.

27.03.2012. The first hearing of the criminal case, regarding the riots in the city of Zhanaozen on the 16th – 17th of December 2011, was opened. The court meeting took place in the ‘Armand’ centre, designed to fit up to 300 people, journalists were sent to a separate room, and it was forbidden to use video or audio devices. According to the information presented by the Supreme Court of the RK, as many as 37 people appear as defendants in this criminal case. Charges of organising mass disorders accompanied by violence, riots, arson, devastation, destruction of property, looting and violence against government officials were announced against the defendants. From the first day in the hall of trials there were an insufficient number of seats for everyone wishing to attend the trial and monitor it.

28.03.2012. Journalists were banned to carry out a video and audio recording of court proceedings. Representatives of StanTV, CPC, ‘Khabar’ and ‘Reuters’ left the room. As a sign of protest against it, the defendants -oil workers rose from their seats and stood for more than three hours.

28.03.2012. Two international observers were forbidden to stay in the courtroom: the representative of the international committee ‘Zhanaozen-2011’ Max Bokaev, and Asel Nurgazieva, the head of the OSCE in Atyrau, delegated by the NGO to participate in the court proceedings.

28.03.2012. An official representative of JSC ‘Ozenmunaygaz’ Rashid Saulebaev, announced that his company refused to address the issue of damages during this process, and expressed the intention to solve it in a civil case, after the verdict in this case is issued. According to the company, the amount of damage caused by mass riots amounted to 1 billion 190 million 439 thousand tenge (about 6 million 126 thousand 928 euros).

29.03.2012. 38 of 188 entrepreneurs, passing on the case as victims, completely abandoned their financial claims against the defendants. At trial, evidence was also given that each owner of a yurt received a note from Orak Sarbopeev, the former akim (mayor) of the town of Zhanaozen, saying that should the yurts be damaged, he is going compensate this loss by paying two million tenge (approx. 10,125 euros).

29.03.2012. Marat Tlepov, a representative of the BTA Bank said that the damage caused to the Zhanaozen branch of the BTA during the riots on the 16th of December, 2011, totaled 56 million, 30 thousand and 83 tenge (approx. 288,375 euros). “Of these, 24 million tenge (approx. 123,500 euros) is for property damage, 31 million tenge (approx. 160,000 euros) are the financial means that were stolen from the bank’s ATMs’.

30.03.2012. At the request of the defense, a preventive measure for Anuarbek Tadzhenov was changed. Because of health problems the defendant-oil worker was transferred to house arrest.

02.04.2012. During the examination of witnesses, representatives of state institutions, the buildings which were destroyed on the 16th-17th of December, 2011: branches of banks, the pension fund, and a college, declined damage reparations from the defendants – oil workers.

02.04.2012. During the meeting it turned out that the police officers, on whose evidence the prosecution is based, do not want to speak in the courtroom. Their testimony will be read off, and their names will be changed to pseudonyms.

02.04.2012. A police officer Nurlybek Nurbulat denied any claims against the defendants.

04.04.2012. Parakhat Dyusembayev, one of the defendants-oil workers, said that during the investigation of disorder in Zhanaozen on the 16th-17th of December, 2011, physical violence was applied to him and to other defendants.

05.04.2012. A district police officer Tulegen Shigerbaev renounced his statements regarding oil workers and asked for their forgiveness.

06.04.2012. A defendant, Oil worker Maksat Dosmagambetov, announced that physical violence was used on him and on other defendants when they were in the detention centre. “When we got to the detention centre, we were beaten, we were mocked, but representatives of law enforcement bodies, to whom we complained about it, took no action!” – said the defendant.

09.04.2012. The judge acknowledged the investigations against the leader of the strike movement, Talgat Saktaganov, as invalid because the investigation was led by a law enforcement officer who also takes part in the case on riots in Zhanaozen as a victim and a witness. Despite this, the judge refused to release him from custody.

10.04.2012. Judge Aralbay Nagashibaev proceeded from the examination of the victims to examination of the defendants, thus omitting the examination of witnesses, which is contrary to the jurisprudence.

10.04.2012. A defendant Tanatar Kaliev, who gave testimony on which the prosecution against the activists of the strike movement, Talagat Sagtaganov and Rosa Tuletaeva, was based, renounced his testimony. During the court session, Tanatar Kaliev felt bad, but the judge Aralbay Nagashibaev did not postpone his examination, but asked prosecutors to read off his testimony that he gave during the investigation.

10.04.2012. A defendant Esengeldy Abdurakhmanov told in his testimony how he had contracted tuberculosis in the detention centre and how he was tortured. “I was healthy. This is how I got tuberculosis. After being arrested when myself and others were caught on the 16th of December, we were put into the basement of the Zhanaozen police station, stripped naked, hosed with cold water, they came and beat us every five minutes. Then he poured cold water over us again and we were kept naked on the cold floor. A fat man came and jumped on top of us with his feet, and so it went on for several hours. And then I became very ill, because no help was given to me, and on the 27th of December, when I felt really bad, I asked them to call an ambulance for me!” – said the defendant.

11.04.2012. The defendants’ lawyers expressed their distrust to the judge Aralbay Nagashibaev. They said that they doubted the objectivity of the court. Then, as a counterbalance, prosecutors and some defendants (oil workers) spoke. The petition for disqualification of the judge was denied.

11.04.2012. A defendant, Tanatar Kaliev, who had previously renounced his testimony, said that he had given it under torture, and that there was a serious threat to his life.

12.04.2012. Activists of the Coalition of Democratic Forces ‘Khalyk Maidany’ (‘Popular Front’) issued an appeal addressed to the heads of diplomatic missions in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kazakh human rights organizations, NGOs and mass media to closely watch the trial in Aktau to prevent judicial arbitrariness.

16.04.2012. It was announced that Rosa Tuletaev, a 46-year-old mother of three and activist of the strike movement of oil workers, during the interrogation was hung by her hair, suffocated with a garbage bag, raped, and an iron rod was pressed against her intestinal walls to force her to give the evidence that the investigators needed.

16.04.2012. Social activists and journalists of Kazakhstan issued a statement during a press conference, demanding to stop the trial of oil workers. As a reason they stated that investigation of those accused in the Zhanaozen case was conducted with the use of criminal methods.

17.04.2012. Defendants-oil workers: Serik Akzhigitov, Zhanat Murynbaev, Parakhat Dyusembaev and Zhanbyr Yergazev stated that physical abuse was applied to them during the course of the investigation of the Zhanaozen disorders.

17.04.2012. In the town of Aktau, in the building of the Centre for Repatriate Adaptation, a trial on the criminal case regarding the riots at the Shetpe station began. The hearing is conducted simultaneously with the case on the unrest in Zhanaozen, and so, two of the defendants do not have their lawyers, because one of them is occupied in the case on the events in Zhanaozen, and the second one went for a business trip to Astana. In the criminal case, 12 people are accused. The case is conducted by Judge Berdybek Myrzabekov.

18.04.2012. A juvenile defendant, Islam Shamilov, said that he was forced to sign his statements. “They showed me a paper and told me to sign them. I didn’t even read it. I signed it because they promised to release me and let me go back to my mom. They blamed me for everything. They said, “If you don’t take the blame, you will not get out, so you just have to admit you are guilty.” And I’m not guilty!”.

19.04.2012. The Court finished the examination of all 37 defendant oil workers that lasted for two weeks. On the last day of questioning, two more defendants (oil workers: Mels Sarybaev and Nursultan Mukhashov) stated that a physical abuse was used on them by law enforcement workers during the investigation of the Zhanaozen disorders.