KNB Hasn’t Changed After Qantar: Witness of Muratkhan Tokmadi's Torture Decided to Go Against System

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Orda has looked into how border guards, on the instructions of the KNB, conducted video surveillance of the main suspect in the murder of banker Yerzhan Tatishev in the pre-trial detention center in 2017 and what happened later.

We have already written about how in 2022 the Anti-Corruption Service in Almaty investigated Muratkhan Tokmadi's torture case. If the investigation had been able to prove then that Tokmadi, in 2017, confessed to the murder of banker Yerzhan Tatishev under physical and psychological pressure exerted by KNB officers, then his conviction from 2018 would have had to be revised.

However, Antikor investigators did not find evidence of the suspect’s guilt, therefore, on December 29, 2022, they closed the criminal case due to "lack of corpus delicti".

Tokmadi's defense protested Antikor's decision to the Prosecutor General's Office. They achieved the resumption of the investigation on April 29, 2023. The trump card was a valuable witness who, they say, saw firsthand what was happening 7 years ago in the KNB’s Almaty detention center. Our journalists met with him to find out the details.

Compromising Evidence

53-year–old Bakytzhan Dyusupov is a former lieutenant colonel of the border troops of Kazakhstan. He served 3 years in a colony for ex-law enforcement officers for disclosing state secrets and was released on parole in 2021. He does not admit his guilt and considers his case fabricated. Dyusupov claims that he suffered because he refused to play along with his committee supervisors when they forcibly tortured Tokmadi into confessing to the murder of the BTA bank’s head. Tokmadi supposedly committed the crime at the request of oligarch-oppositionist, Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Until July 2017, I served in the regional border department "Shygys" on the operational line. Then I was transferred to the KNB's interdepartmental investigative task force, which was conducting the case of the murder of the banker Tatishev. I conducted covert video surveillance of Muratkhan while he was in a pre–trial detention cell and then wrote detailed reports about it to the KNB, says Dyusupov.

According to him, hidden round-the-clock video surveillance of the suspect was conducted in the period from July to November 2017. Over the span of several months, a total of more than a hundred audio and video files were gathered. The lieutenant colonel of the border troops copied them onto a hard disk.

These videos captured footage of both psychological pressure in the form of blackmail and threats against Tokmadi's relatives, as well as his brutal beatings and tortures. At first, the KNB officers persuaded Muratkhan to testify against Ablyazov. He had to declare in court that the oligarch offered him to eliminate Tatishev for $4 million to write off a debt, so he agreed. In return, the security officers promised Muratkhan to assist in mitigating the punishment. They said that the judge, they say, will give him 5 years for murder and in 3 years he will be able to be released early. Then the committeemen already beat Muratkhan into confessing to the murder, as he had been thinking for a long time whether to accept their offer or not,

Bakytzhan Dyusupov. Photo from the personal archive

According to our interlocutor, a KNB employee and Tokmadi's cellmate "distinguished" themselves the most. Allegedly, it was they who, following the order of the the interdepartmental investigative task force’s (IITF - Ed.) leadership, applied illegal investigative methods to the suspect.

The hidden video footage captures not only the torture, but also the moment when Tokmadi signed a procedural agreement with the prosecutor to admit his guilt. Later I found out that he had been transferred from the pre-trial detention center to the psychiatric department of the military hospital of the KNB. They brought him ready-printed testimony there, he memorized the text, and then made confessions in court, says Dyusupov.

According to the former lieutenant colonel, his conscience tormented him, as he understood that he was involved in the illegal activities of the interdepartmental investigative task force. Therefore, he feigned illness and was released from his "dubious work". Dyusupov subsequently tried to make these facts public through journalists, but none of them agreed to write the sensational material. This attempt cost him dearly.

There was probably an information leak because in June 2018, the KNB unexpectedly opened a criminal case against me and my former colleague under Part 3 of Article 185 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan "Disclosure of state secrets". We were accused of trying to sell video materials from the Tokmadi case to unknown persons for $15 million!

According to Dyusupov, during the investigation, the committee members forced him and his colleague to confess to the crime. At first, he partially admitted his guilt, confirming that he had indeed illegally stored the hard disk with audio and video files in a safe place. But, according to him, there was nothing secret in the videos - they showed the everyday life of an ordinary person under investigation, not a foreign spy or traitor.

The second suspect also admitted his guilt partially (at the request of the speaker, we will not disclose his name – ed.). He claimed that he mediated in the negotiations between Bakytzhan Dyusupov and the famous investigative journalist Gennady Benditsky, but nothing more.

However, the investigation stood its ground: the two of us divulged classified information. They imposed a free lawyer on me at the expense of the state, as my defender did not have access to state secrets. I spent 4 months in solitary confinement in a pre-trial detention center. They didn't get physical with me, but they threatened to put me in jail for a long time. One of the leaders of the IITF, Colonel Ruslan Iskakov, threatened that if I did not give him all the videos that I kept in a secret place, then my wife would be in the next cell tomorrow. They say that the committee members will find a reason to initiate a criminal case against her. I had to give up the hard drive and take all the blame,

According to our interlocutor, before his arrest, he did not have time to make copies of the videos. But the committeemen took as many as 2 copies from the disk, the last of which they sent for expert research. This is not legally permissible.

They should have sent the original video recordings for examination, not a copy. It was a gross violation of the law, but the court turned a blind eye to it, as well as to all our complaints and objections. Later, all copies of the videos were destroyed by the decision of the judge of the military court of the Almaty garrison, Aliaskarov. I believe that the servant of Themis was ordered to destroy an important piece of evidence. The head of the 5th department of the KNB, Colonel Ruslan Iskakov, was probably behind all this

According to our interlocutor, the criminal case on the disclosure of state secrets consisted of 8 volumes. The prosecution’s key evidence was the examination conducted by the permanent commission for the protection of KNB state secretaries. They found that the materials that were illegally kept by Dyusupov contained state secrets that were made public.

Experts estimated the cost of material damage at 24 million tenge. At the same time, they wrote that we could harm the interests of the national security agencies, that is, they did not claim, but only assumed such a possibility. Later, my colleague and I fully compensated for this material damage, otherwise we would not have been allowed to get out on parole,

Cold War

According to the ex-lieutenant colonel, he spent 13 months in jail while waiting for the end of the investigation and trial. Then, by court verdict, he served a year and nine months in a general regime colony for former law enforcement officers. In 2021, he was released.

After the events of January 2022, Dyusupov had hoped that his sentence would be re-reviewed, as  the former KNB head was under investigation.

I wrote an 11-page petition addressed to the Head of State, in which I asked him to take control of my case. However, my petition was forwarded by the presidential administration to the Prosecutor General's Office. From the main supervisory authority of the country, I received an ingenious answer that, they say, I was correctly convicted, so the prosecutors have no grounds to overturn the verdict of the military garrison court in Almaty on December 27, 2018,

According to Dyusupov, the prosecutor's answer brought about his decision to help others in the confrontation with law enforcement officers. As soon as he found out from an article of ours that Muratkhan Tokmadi was recognized in June 2022 as an affected party in a similar case of from 2017-2018, he began to take action. Thanks to some old connections, he was able to reach an Antikor investigator, who was leading the case.

I called the investigator and said that I could give testimony against the committee butchers. He agreed, recorded my testimony, and then held a questioning with Baigabatov, who was suspected of torturing Tokmadi. The investigator also promised to hold a questioning with Ruslan Iskakov and Arman Alipov, but he did not call me. Later I found out that the case of Tokmadi's torture had been dismissed because the investigation could not find witnesses of his cruel tortures. I was taken aback by this wording, considering that I was officially ready to speak out against the sadists in uniform,

Our hero assures that he is not afraid of unleashing a cold war against the KNB, as he has already served his time and now he has nothing to lose.

I don't have videos of Tokmadi's torture on hand that would confirm my words. This main piece of evidence disappeared, thanks to the committeemen’s efforts. But I am ready to testify against the leadership and some members of the IITF, who investigated Tokmadi’s case on the murder of the banker Tatishev. I am ready to speak out against the colonel of the KNB Iskakov, who appeared in the footage only once. I clearly remember how he communicated with one of Tokmadi's lawyers, persuading him to convince the client to cooperate with the investigation. There was no such thing as Iskakov beating or threatening Muratkhan. But it was he who gave orders to press him with his henchmen!

We asked our interlocutor why he was defending Tokmadi, given that they had not personally known each other before.

I just went on principle to help another person who suffered from the arbitrariness of the old guard of the KNB. But I quickly became disillusioned with our law enforcement and judicial system, as I saw that nothing had changed in it after Qantar.

According to the former intelligence officer, his sentence officially ended on July 27, 2023. However, he cannot officially find a job anywhere because of his criminal record. He taxis in his spare time to support his family.

Muratkhan Tokmadi's wife, Jamila, says she recently found out about Bakytzhan Dyusupov. She believes that he should be included in the state program for the protection of valuable witnesses and protected from possible KNB provocations.

I hope that this time Dyusupov's testimony will form the basis of a renewed case of the torture, so that the butchers in uniform do not escape punishment, but are held responsible to the full extent of the Law! Jamila Aimbetova-Tokmadi says.

Our Editorial Office's Comment

We will monitor the new investigation's progress regarding Muratkhan Tokmadi's torture. For the sake of objectivity, we have suggested organizing an interview with the Tatishev family and former employees of the KNB investigative task force, who, in 2017, conducted the case of the contract murder of BTA Bank's head in December 2004. We genuinely want to know what they think about Tokmadi's attempts to achieve an acquittal in such a high-profile case.

Original Author: Zhanar Kusanova

DISCLAIMER: This is a translated piece. The text has been modified, the content is the same. Please refer to the original article in Russian for accuracy.

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