Imprisoned Kazakh Pastor Released

Friday, February 21, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

kazakhstan christianASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN (Worthy News)-- Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was released yesterday on three years' probation following a bizarre trial and nine months of imprisonment, according to International Christian Concern.

"In my experience as a lawyer, this is one of the strangest cases I have seen in terms of legality," said Nurlan Beysekeyev, Kashkumbayev's lawyer. "It was not just strange, but from the standpoint of the law all types of violations occurred when the case was opened, when it was being investigated and during the trial."

Originally, five charges were brought against Kashkumbayev. But without any explanation, prosecutors dropped four of the charges, keeping only Criminal Code Article 103, Part 1, which accused Kashkumbayev of "intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm" by allegedly adding hallucinogens to a red tea used during communion service.

According to Forum 18, Kashkumbayev must pay a $10,800 fine for "moral damages" to his alleged victim, Lyazzat Almenova, who has steadfastly denied any harm from him to her health.

"We are rejoicing at the release on probation of Pastor Kashkumbayev, who is no longer being tortured in prison," said Corey Bailey, ICC Regional Manager for Central Asia. "Though not allowed to leave the country, he is now able to receive the medical help he has been denied since his arrest in May 2013. We support his lawyers' decision to appeal the wrongful 'guilty' charge and exorbitant fine. We are grateful for all those who remembered Kashkumbayev in prayer and relentlessly advocated for his release."

Thousands of concerned Christians worldwide had signed petitions and called on the Kazakh embassy to demand Kashkumbayev's release.