International Monitoring Mission finds trial of Kazakhstan workers unfair

Trial of the oil industry workers from Kazakhstani city of Zhanaozen failed to comply with fair trail standards. This is the main conclusion made by the International Monitoring Mission that included international and Kazakhstani experts, who represented the Civic Solidarity Platform.

They monitored the entire period of the trial, from March till June, 2012, whcih resulted in criminal sentences to oil workers charged with organizing and participating in mass riots in Zhanaozen on December 16, 2011.

Major findings of the Mission include:

1. The investigation of the events that took place on and after December 16, 2011 was neither full nor impartial.   The authorities should have proven that the protesting oil workers started the mass riots, and that the reaction by the police was legal and proportionate to the violent actions of the protestors.  Only this would have justified charging the defendants with participating in mass riots.  As this was never proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the authorities are responsible for the use of force and, given that the defendants should have benefited from the presumption of innocence, they should not have been found legally responsible.  

2. During the preliminary investigation twenty-seven of the 37 defendants and ten witnesses were  subjected to torture or cruel and degrading treatment  aimed at forcing them to  provide incriminating evidence. The defendants’ right to access to an attorney was also violated during the initial stage of the investigation.

3. Kazakhstani authorities did not conduct an effective investigation into the allegations of torture by defendants and witnesses, although these provided detailed information and identified the law enforcement officials who had used torture. As a consequence, none of those responsible for torture have been punished. Additionally, the court admitted into evidence testimony obtained by torture, claiming that the defendants’ allegations were made for the purpose of  avoiding criminal responsibility.

4. A great part of the evidence used during the trial appeared in essence to have been fabricated during the investigation . In addition to testimony obtained through torture, the evidence used included unreliable statements made by  police officers, including some who claimed to recognize defendants  from a long distance. A large part of the evidence compiled by the prosecution was irrelevant to the case. In general the trial appeared from the very beginning to be biased in favor of the prosecution and the principle of presumption of innocence was violated.

5. The widespread use of testimony by police officers and anonymous witnesses (some of whom were also police officers) represented another violation of fair trial standards, particularly as the guilty verdicts of 21 defendants were to a significant extent based on the basis of testimony by such witnesses.

Full version of the report can be downloaded using the link below.