Longest Suspended Sentence for Nazarbayev's Nephew Explained


The verdict in the case of Samat Abish, the nephew of the first president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, shocked both experienced lawyers and ordinary Kazakhstanis. On February 26, a court in Astana handed an eight-year conditional sentence down. Lawyers called this punishment "ridiculous" and suggested that it could be the longest conditional sentence in the entire history of independent Kazakhstan's judicial system. Orda has looked into the matter.

The First Family's Second Generation

Samat Abish is from the second generation of the family that controlled Kazakhstan for 30 years. His father is Satybaldy Nazarbayev, Nursultan Nazarbayev's younger brother. 

The eldest son of Satybalda Nazarbayev is Kairat Satybaldyuly. In Kazakhstan, He is known for a harem of five wives, as well as significant sums that he has returned to the state in corruption cases while serving a prison sentence.

Incidentally, another trial against Kairat Satybaldyuly has been set for April 1

Samat Abish, unlike his business-oriented older brother, chose a career in law enforcement. After graduating from the Academy of the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan, he also received a diploma from the Russian Academy of Foreign Intelligence Service.

He quietly made career moves: six years of service in KNB officer positions, the post of Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice, later returning to familiar territory, the KNB. 

At the age of 32, Samat Abish became the head of the KNB's personnel department. By the age of 35, he had ascended to deputy chairman of the Committee. Two years later, he became the first deputy chairman of the KNB. With the rank of lieutenant general, his career would fall apart at this position.

All Things Come to an End

Bloody January caused Samat Abish's career to fall apart. The case against Arman Dzhumageldiyev, i.e. Wild Arman, is a notable moment.

Wild Arman

On September 18, 2023, preliminary hearings were held in the case. 44 people were accused of organizing mass riots, participating in them, stealing firearms, as well as kidnapping 24 bystanders during Bloody January. 

One of the defendants was the former head of the fifth department of the National Security Committee, Ruslan Iskakov. In court, he claimed that he was carrying out the orders of the first deputy head of the KNB, Samat Abish, during the January Events.

The next day, the Prosecutor General's Office confirmed that Abish was also under investigation.

A pre-trial investigation is underway into the abuse of power and official authority during the January Events,
 The Prosecutor General's Office stated.

The official representative of the department, Darkhan Duisembay, had confirmed to an Orda correspondent that Samat Abish was under travel restrictions and in Kazakhstan.

Ruslan Iskakov, however, was in a much less fortunate predicament. He was being held in a KNB pre-trial detention center along with other defendants in the Wild Arman case. Isakov claimed that they were trying to stop him from naming Abish.

More than 100 investigators and operatives of the Prosecutor General's Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, FMA, Antikor, and the National Security Committee, who investigated this case for a year, found that unidentified persons in unidentified circumstances in an unidentified place and at an unspecified time made me an unidentified offer, which I accepted for unspecified reasons. My statements were ignored. A year after the questioning, they were classified. Thus, they are trying to stop me from saying that I was following Abish's orders,
 he claimed at the preliminary hearing.

Under Wraps

Samat Abish's case was immediately classified. The whole process, including the pre-trial investigation and the trial itself, lasted about six months. 

In January 2024, information surfaced that Abish's case had been transferred to court. Samat Abish was accused of a criminal offense under Article 362 Part 4 "Abuse of official authority, which entailed grave consequences." The penalty under this article is from five to 10 years of restricted liberty. 

The court sessions were held behind closed doors. Information about the sentencing was neither on the official Internet resources of the metropolitan City Court nor in the judicial office. 

The Dat newspaper was the first to report on the verdict, and only in the paper version dated March 14, 2024. This information was not available on Dat's website.

The verdict was handed down on February 26 but was not made public. 

Only after several publications in the media did the Inter-district Criminal Court issue an official statement. It confirms that the defendant was convicted under part 4 of Article 362 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Samat Abish was sentenced to eight years in prison with deprivation of the right to hold certain positions for a period of 10 years. Based on Article 63 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, it was decided to consider the imposed punishment conditional.

Article 63 states: "If, having imposed a sentence restricting liberty, the court comes to the conclusion that it is possible to correct the convicted person without the service of a sentence, it decides to consider the imposed sentence conditional."

The statement has other interesting details:

  • The prosecutor requested Abish be sentenced to restriction of liberty for eight years along with being unable to hold certain positions for 10 years
  • The prosecutor also requested to impose a conditional sentence with probation control based on Article 63 of the Criminal Code
  • The defendant fully admitted his guilt and demonstrated sincere remorse 
  • The court recognized the defendant having minor children and his sincere remorse as mitigating circumstances. No Aggravating circumstances were established.

Dat is the newspaper of Majilis deputy Yermurat Bapi. He was the permanent editor-in-chief of the publication from the moment of its foundation in 1998 until his election to parliament. On the sidelines of the Majilis, Yermurat Bapi commented on the verdict handed down to Samat Abish.

The fact that he was given eight years of probation is ridiculous. I have not heard of such a decision. It would be better to be given three years of real time. The influence of the Old Kazakhstan is also seen in this decision. If such a person was protected, the second person in the KNB, who deals with all operational matters, who is connected with Qantar, it means that the influence of Old Kazakhstan still exists in the country.

According to the deputy, no one has ever been given such a long conditional sentence in the modern history of Kazakhstan.

Funny If Not Sad.

Well-known Kazakhstani lawyers have also spoken about Samat Abish's sentence. 

Lawyer Sergei Utkin has recommended "not to look for an underlying reason." 

The judge has the right to choose which term to give the defendant, conditional or not. When there are such political matters, why not give him a conditional one? Moreover, he does not have a particularly severe crime. I am sure that if the judge passed such a sentence, then according to the law he had the right,
 The lawyer said.

In his opinion, the involvement of the ex-president's nephew catching the attention of almost the entire country also played a role. 

Lawyer Serzhan Praliyev, on the other hand, is of the opposing opinion. He considered this verdict a sign of the selectivity in Kazakhstan's judicial system. That is, this is not a matter of fairness, objectivity, and impartiality.

Officers are given real terms for such crimes. Remember the Khorgos case, where one of the defendants was also released at the prosecutor's request. Article 63 is applied at the discretion of the court. After all, Abish admitted his guilt and demonstrated remorse: "Please understand and forgive." He was forgiven, so here's selective justice for you!the lawyer said. 

At the same time, he admitted that the suspended sentence was "clearly and competently worked out." 

The fact is that part 4 of Article 362 specifies a period of 5 to 10 years. But automatically, this is no longer a particularly serious crime. The prosecutor asked for a conditional sentence, and the court granted,  said Sergeant Praliyev.

Lawyer Tleuzhan Kishkenebayev believes that the facts in the case were greatly distorted, and the verdict was influenced by Abish's family ties. 

This decision is not entirely justified. He was tried in the case of the January events. How many people were killed and injured? Therefore, it was wrong to pass such a sentence. Personally, I don't support it. Undoubtedly, the court can take into account Article 63 of the Criminal Code, but there must be serious grounds for this. The judge conducted themself incompetently, the lawyer said.

Majilis deputy, Abzal Kuspan, also expressed disagreement. According to him, one can only hope that the state prosecutors will appeal.

As a deputy, I have no right to assess the verdict, according to the requirements of the Constitution. But as a citizen of Kazakhstan, I support the opinion of society. I believe that Samat Abish was sentenced unjustly. Now Kazakhstanis are upset, and I am on their side. I want to believe that until the verdict comes into force, the state prosecutor will appeal, said Abzal Kuspan. 

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Yerzhan Sadenov explained the details of the sentence. 

Now he (Samat Abish - Ed.) is on probation control. There are conditions, he has no right to leave, to leave the country. The conditional sentence implies that he must be on the territory of the country, at (his - Ed.) place of residence,
 the minister said.

Experts call Samat Abish's sentence unprecedented, some consider it unjust, but they agree that it is legally justified.

Everything has been done subtly and professionally. Attempts to change it could end up being futile or the party challenging the verdict may only create problems for themselves.

Original Author: Lora Figner

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

Latest news

view all