Ex-Kazakh minister gets 24 years in prison for murdering wife

Published May 14, 2024
Kazakhstan’s former Economy Minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev, who was found guilty of murdering his wife and sentenced to 24 years in prison, is seen behind a glass wall of an enclosure for defendants during a court hearing in Astana, Kazakhstan, May 13, 2024 — Reuters
Kazakhstan’s former Economy Minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev, who was found guilty of murdering his wife and sentenced to 24 years in prison, is seen behind a glass wall of an enclosure for defendants during a court hearing in Astana, Kazakhstan, May 13, 2024 — Reuters

ASTANA: A former minister of the economy from Kazakhstan has been sentenced to 24 years in prison. He has been charged with the murder of his wife after the conclusion of a widely watched trial. Certain individuals perceived the trial as ‘a litmus test’ of the president’s promise to improve women’s rights.

Kuandyk Bishimbayev, 44, was found guilty of torture and murder by the court. His trial has been broadcast live over the past seven weeks and has been widely regarded as an attempt by the authorities to send a message that ‘members of the elite are no longer above the law’.

CCTV footage played during the trial, showed Bishimbayev repeatedly punching and kicking his wife (31-year-old, Saltanat Nukenov). He was seen dragging her by her hair, near-naked, into a room where she later died.

Videos were found on Bishimbayev’s mobile phone, in which he insulted and humiliated the visibly bruised and bloodied Nukenova, in the final hours before she lost consciousness. This occurred on the morning of Nov 9, 2023.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who replaced veteran Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev five years ago, stated that he wants to build a fairer society which includes improved rights for women.

The case has aided in rallying public support behind a law criminalising domestic violence, which was passed by parliament, last month. Government data depicts that one in six women in Kazakhstan has experienced violence, at behest of a male partner.

During the trial, Bishimbayev admitted to beating his wife, but said some of her injuries were self-inflicted. He denied torturing or planning to murder her.

He served as the oil-rich nation’s economy minister from May to December 2016. He was convicted of bribery in 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, he walked free in less than three years, thanks to an amnesty and parole.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2024

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