No Forgiveness: Reactions to Bishimbayev's Sentence.

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Kuandyk Bishimbayev has been handed down a 24-year prison sentence for killing Saltanat Nukenova. Nukenova's relatives said he would never be forgiven. Meanwhile, professional judges explained the specifics of this high-profile case, reports

Almost for Life

The trial of former Minister of National Economy Kuandyk Bishimbayev was in many ways a historical precedent for Kazakhstan. Professional lawyers, journalists, bloggers, and celebrities focused their attention on the proceedings. For the first time, The Supreme Court's press service along with a TV channel organized a live stream of it on YouTube. 

The trial, along with the preliminary hearings, lasted more than two months. 

On 13 May 2024, the jury returned the long-awaited verdict: Kuandyk Bishimbayev had been found guilty by a majority vote and sentenced to 24 years. Bakhytzhan Baizhanov was sentenced to four years in prison for concealment.

Saltanat Nukenova's brother, Aitbek Amangeldy stated that this is "almost a life-sentence". Indeed, Bishimbayev will be 68 years old in 24 years:

We are very grateful to the jury for their time, patience, and the fact that they had to go through very difficult moments of the trial. You're fortunate not to have seen everything shown to the jury. They had to examine and watch it all. They have fulfilled their duty to society, to the law. This is no small feat.

Zhanna Urazbakhova, a representative of the affected party, clarified a certain detail: 

The fact that he received 24 years in prison means that at least eight jurors voted that he was guilty.

Saltanat Nukenova's father expressed approval of Bishimbayev's sentence but not Baizhanov's. 

There will be no forgiveness for them in both worlds. Today, Bishimbayev was given 24 years, we accept that. But we do not accept Baizhanov's four years, Amangeldy Nukenov said.

Judge Aizhan Kulbayeva commented on the decision in her Instagram account:

A sentence is recognized as fair if the perpetrator is punished or another corrective action is determined in accordance with the degree of public danger of the crime committed by them and their personality, whereas the innocent has been defended and rehabilitated.


To apply for parole, Kuandyk Bishimbayev will have to serve two-thirds of the sentence - 16 years. 

Parole is the prerogative of the court, but to make such a decision, the approval of the affected party, that is, the relatives of Saltanat Nukenova, is required,Aizhan Aimaganova clarified. 

Seifulla Tasymbetov, the judge coordinator for media relations, stated at a press conference after the verdict whether Bishimbayev could be released on parole:

According to Article 72 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, parole for a convicted person for a particularly serious crime is possible when he has served at least two thirds of the sentence. When considering an application for parole, the behavior of the convicted person during the period of serving his sentence, his character testimonial, participation in events at the institution of the criminal justice system, as well as the opinion of the affected party are taken into account. That is, all these circumstances are considered as a whole. And the decision is within the authority of the court.

His colleague, judge coordinator for media relations, Alma Yesymova, explained Bishimbayev's sentence: 

Bishimbayev has been sentenced for committing a particularly serious crime — homicide. The maximum sanction is 20 years in prison. And by partially cumulating the terms, he was given four more years for torture. This is almost a "ceiling" that can be set by law. The maximum term is 25 years, he was assigned 24 years.

The judge stated that state prosecutor, Aizhan Aimaganova, had requested 24 years for Bishimbayev and four years for Baizhanov during the closed court hearing.

Indifference Is Complicity

What sentence Bishimbayev would be handed down was a sticking point.

Experts said there was little hope for a lengthy sentence, whereas chances of life imprisonment being handed down were slim to none. The reasoning behind this - there may have been jurors who sympathized with the defendant. 

It was also believed that Bishimbayev's defense would seek to reclassify his actions as causing death by negligence. This was supposed to be addressed in one question on the jury's list

Bishimbayev's sentence nonetheless ended up being lengthy. Kuandyk Bishimbayev's mother cried while listening to the jury's decision. 

The second defendant, Bakhytzhan Baizhanov, was dissatisfied:

Honestly, why have I been given four years?

He then received the judge's explanation:

An innocent man has been convicted. he responded.

Zhanna Urazbakhova, the lawyer of the affected party, spoke about how emotionally challenging Bishimbayev's case was even for professionals:

There are no such things as difficult cases or tasks that cannot be solved. It was emotionally challenging, first of all, to see how Saltanat Nukenova's life was being destroyed, how a young, beautiful woman who had her whole life ahead of her died. How her life was taken away, and that no one... She was dying in a crowded area, and not a single person offered her a helping hand. And most of all the cruelty, the indifference, was frightening. Because indifference is complicity.

The Bishimbayev trial has impacted all of Kazakhstan's society. Saltanat Nukenova's brother took a video with journalists and thanked all media representatives for their support.

He noted that Kazakhstan has become the regional leader in the fight against domestic violence, thus journalists from international and Russian outlets came to cover the hearings.

That's why we continue to talk to them, that's why representatives of foreign media come. They are getting involved in order to use our example in their countries to make changes to legislation, to change the attitude of society towards the problem of domestic violence. We see that amendments to the law have already been initiated in Kyrgyzstan, there will still be changes ahead, said Aitbek Amangeldy.

Not Over Yet

The verdict has not yet entered into force. The participants in the trial have 15 days to appeal it to the appellate instance. Bishimbayev's lawyer, Leila Ramazanova, has confirmed such intentions.

Meanwhile, Judge Aizhan Kulbayeva, who presided over the trial of Bishimbayev, is still under police protection due to threats. A pre-trial investigation regarding this is underway. 

On the day of the verdict, Kazakhstani feminist movement members protested against Bishimbayev's sentence. They see it as too lenient.

Why wasn't a life sentence given for merciless murder? This is a very lenient sentence. May each of you feel all the pain. A woman died for eight hours, who was not snoring, but wheezing in agony, said Zhanar Sekerbayeva, a founder of Feminita.

The protesters held placards with the words "Sentence Bishimbayev To Life" and "Silence Did Not Save Us."

Former Minister of National Economy Kuandyk Bishimbayev was detained on November 9, 2023 on suspicion of homicide. A conflict between him and Saltanat Nukenova had occurred at the BAU restaurant. Nukenova died from injuries sustained from being physically assaulted.

The main trial in the case with the participation of jurors began on March 27, 2024. 

On April 24, Kuandyk Bishimbayev partially admitted his guilt, stating there was no intention

On May 6, the defendants gave their final statements. Kuandyk Bishimbayev quoted Hitler and accused the media of distorting the facts of his case.

Original Author: Anastasia Prilepskaya

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. 

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