Kazakh pastor given jail term for “harming health”

February 22, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

 

Bakhytzhan Kashkumayev was freed after nine months’ imprisonment

Bakhytzhan Kashkumayev was freed after nine months’ imprisonment

Kazakhstan, February 19, 2014: Kazakh pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumayev has been convicted of harming the health of a church member, despite her insistence to the contrary.

On Monday (17 February), the pastor of Grace Church in the capital, Astana, was given a four-year prison term suspended for three years and ordered to pay his supposed victim, Lyazzat Almenova, “moral damages” of two million Tenge (£6,500; US$10,800).

The 67-year-old was freed after nine months’ imprisonment. He will appeal against the verdict.

His lawyer, Nurlan Beysekeyev, told Forum 18 News Service that it was one of the strangest cases he had seen in terms of legality, saying that “all types of violations occurred”.

Pastor Kashkumbayev was accused of causing psychiatric harm to Lyazzat by her sister; earlier reports said that the case against him had been brought by the woman’s mother. Lyazzat was forcibly held in a psychiatric hospital where she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. But she has repeatedly insisted that she is healthy and called for the case against the church leader to be dropped.

Further charges were brought against Pastor Kashkumbayev; he was accused of harming the health of another church member, leading a religious organisation that harms individuals’ health and two counts of “religious extremism”. All but the first additional charge were subsequently dropped. The pastor’s lawyer has warned that a new criminal case could be launched against him.

The legal status of Grace Church may also be under threat. It has long been subjected to state hostility.

– barnabas team

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