A specialized inter-district military court in Kazakhstan has sentenced former defense minister Murat Bektanov, who was arrested after protests in January 2022. According to BaigeNews.kz with reference to the press service of the court, the ex-minister was sentenced to 12 years in a "maximum security" correctional facility.
Bektanov was found guilty under part 3 of article 452 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan (Excess of power committed in a combat situation). The court did not provide details, referring to the stamp "secret".
Bektanov was detained in February 2022. Then it was reported that an investigation was being conducted into the fact of inaction in the service (Article 452 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan). Shortly before this, Kazakh President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev criticized Bektanov for being uncertain and lacking initiative in suppressing protests.
“Minister Bektanov did not show commanding qualities. Having at our disposal an army that showed good results in the course of command-staff and military exercises, we were unable to use its potential in a critical situation and were forced to resort to outside help,” Tokayev said. He accused the head of the Defense Ministry of leaving military strategic facilities unprotected. Then Bektanov was fired from his post.
In January 2022, protests broke out in Kazakhstan, the reason for which was a sharp increase in gas prices. The country's authorities turned to the CSTO allies for help, and a foreign contingent was introduced to Kazakhstan for a short time. The protests were suppressed, the authorities opened about 700 criminal cases against their participants. Hundreds of people were arrested on charges of terrorism, murder, calls for the seizure of power.
Many of the detainees reported being beaten and tortured. In February, a spokesman for the Kazakh Prosecutor General's Office admitted that at least six people had died as a result of torture. In the same month, Marat Osipov, former deputy chairman of the National Security Committee, was arrested in connection with the seizure of power.
In September, Tokayev announced an amnesty for participants in the January protests who "have not committed a serious crime."