Recap: First Hearings on Bishimbayev Trial

cover Photo: Orda

A long line at security, crowded court corridors, and journalists not being allowed into the courtroom. Orda put together a recap of the preliminary hearings in the case of Kuandyk Bishimbayev, accused of killing Saltanat Nukenova.

Obstacle Course

More than 80 journalists were accredited for preliminary hearings at the Astana Specialized Inter-district Court for Criminal Cases. Many media representatives, assuming there may be a lack of seats, arrived two hours before the start of the hearing. However, the guards did not let anyone in before the time scheduled - 14:30. A large queue had formed at the security checkpoint by the appointed time. 

 But entering the courthouse did not guarantee that journalists would be let in. They were not as it would turn out. 

The bailiffs stopped those writing and recording in the cramped corridor.

When asked why the press could not enter the courtroom, given that the trial was open, the bailiffs said nothing. The court's press service eventually invited journalists to go to the hall three floors above, where the hearing was being streamed online. 

It turned out that there were enough empty seats in the courtroom. Saltanat Nukenova's relatives were also forced to watch the online stream. 

This is a great violation for all of society, all of Kazakhstan, not just us. Every Kazakhstani must understand whether we will have a new Kazakhstan, whether we will have a fair Kazakhstan or not, said Saltanat Nukenova's uncle, Kairat Nukenov, commenting on the media not being let in. 

Nukenova's Relatives tried to enter, but it all ended in a shouting match with the guards, which was heard in the courtroom. Judge Aizhan Kulbaeva stopped the state prosecutor mid-sentence. 

The victim’s relatives are making a scene in the corridor. Please ask them not to make noise,the judge addressed the victim's representatives present in the courtroom.

The hearing continued in this incomprehensible, semi-closed format.

The Suspect

The state prosecutor, chief assistant prosecutor, Aizhan Aimaganova, outlined in detail the investigation’s version of how Kuandyk Bishimbayev abused Nukenova for years. According to the prosecutor, Saltanat Nukenova was psychologically and financially dependent on her partner, and Bishimbayev was susceptible to “obsessive jealousy.” 

The indictment also says that Bishimbayev humiliated Nukenova, accused her of being in pornography, and forbade her to work and communicate with friends. He would often become enraged and physically assault Nukenova. Nukenova forgave him over and over again, but one day she sent her brother a photo of her face. 

Bishimbayev found out that Nukenova's relatives had a photo of her battered face. Assuming that they were capable of blackmailing him, he forced Nukenova to make an intimate video where she was unclothed. Out of fear of being physically assaulted, Nukenova agreed, the state prosecutor said.

A specific part of the indictment was devoted to the conflict between the spouses in the BAU restaurant. They left the restaurant at night but then returned, consumed alcohol, and their conflict resumed. 

Kuandyk started insulting Saltanat using obscene language. He began to reproach her regarding the clothes and jewelry he had bought, which made Nukenova angry. She took off everything except her underclothing. Bishimbayev became angry and began assaulting his de-facto wife, the prosecutor said.

According to investigators, Bishimbayev, wearing autumn footwear, physically assaulted the woman with his fists and feet until she stopped showing signs of life.

He would later instruct his cousin, who worked at the same restaurant, to come after hours. The cousin helped Bishimbayev conceal the crime.

After listening to the state prosecutor, Kuandyk Bishimbayev stated that he pleaded not guilty. 

The essence of the accusation is clear to me, I plead not guilty. I would like to have my case heard by a jury. I would like the case to be considered in an open trial and covered in the media, the Bishimbayev said.  

The Other Side

The statements made by Bishimbayev's lawyers stand out.

They demanded to reclassify Bishimbayev's actions, changing articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan 99 part 2 of paragraph 5 "Homicide with Particular Cruelty" and 110 part 2 of paragraph 1 "Torture" to Article 104 "Involuntary Manslaughter/Negligent Homicide".

Lawyer Nazken Kusainova put forward numerous arguments: Bishimbayev was not interrogated correctly, and on the day of the homicide, he gave statements in a state of passion. The lawyer also claimed that Bishimbayev's conflict with Nukenova was spontaneous, i.e. the killing could have been manslaughter/negligent homicide. According to the lawyer's logic, there was no particular cruelty in the killing of Saltanat Nukenova.

The lawyer argued about the need for a postmortem psycho-psychiatric examination and drug test along with a lifetime psychiatric examination of her relatives. They also requested to hold Saltanat's friends liable.

We asked to question Nukenova's friend. To hold criminally liable the friends of Nukenova Saltanat, who stated that they saw traces of bodily injuries on the body of Nukenova Saltanat, for not reporting the crime, Nazken Kusainova said.

Bishimbayev's other lawyer, Balashov, also referred to the lack of intent.

The defense believes that the defendant had no intent to kill. Indeed, there was a conflict in the restaurant... All Bishimbayev’s actions were aimed at calming Saltanat Nukenova,said Balashov. 

Kuandyk Bishimbayev is being charged under the following articles:

  • Clause 5, part 2 art. 99 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Homicide Committed with Particular Cruelty”
  • Clause 1, part 2 art. 110 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Torture”
  • Part 2 Art. 14 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Dangerous Recidivism of a Crime.”

Kuandyk Bishimbayev’s cousin, Bakhytzhan Baizhanov, is being charged under:

  • Art. 432 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Concealment of a Crime”
  • Art. 434 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Failure to Report a Crime”

Petitions from Bishimbayev’s lawyers took up more than half of the entire court session, which lasted more than four hours. It took from 40 minutes to an hour to voice each petition. About the same amount of time was needed for the translator to relay the information in Kazakh to Bishimbayev’s cousin, Bakhytzhan Baizhanov. He told the court that he did not understand Russian well enough. 

Towards the end of the hearing, the lawyers had more petitions to present. However, the court was adjourned and will continue on March 12 at 17.00. 

Former Minister of National Economy Kuandyk Bishimbayev was detained on suspicion of killing his partner on November 9, 2023. According to investigators, a conflict broke out between them in the BAU restaurant. She died from being physically assaulted.

Bishimbayev had already served time for a criminal offense. On January 10, 2017, he was detained for receiving bribes on an especially large scale. On March 14, 2018, he was handed down a 10-year prison sentence. On September 25, 2019, the Abay District Court of Shymkent granted his request for a conditional early release. will continue monitoring developments.

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.

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