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Ex-politician filmed killing wife, angering Kazakhstan

  • Former Kazakh politician’s trial over wife’s murder sparks national outcry
  • CCTV footage shows brutal assault; husband confesses inadvertently causing death
  • Public demands stricter laws after widespread petition following domestic violence case

The trial has incited extensive discourse regarding domestic abuse in a nation where the annual fatal toll from this type of violence is estimated to be at least 400 women. 

The murder prosecution of a former senior politician in Kazakhstan, who is charged with fatally assaulting his wife, has garnered widespread national interest and prompted demands for the enactment of fresh legislation to address the issue of domestic violence.  

The court has broadcast online distressing video of former Kazakhstani economy minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev assaulting his wife at a family restaurant. 

The public is deeply affected by the case, as petitions signed by tens of thousands of individuals demand the enactment of stricter legislation to ensure accountability for those responsible for abuse. 

What precipitated the case’s prominence? 

The trial of Bishimbayev, aged 44, is being broadcast online for the first time in Kazakhstan, providing convenient access to its 19 million inhabitants. 

The former politician was already widely recognized, having been convicted in 2018 of bribery. A pardon was granted him after serving less than two years of his ten-year penitentiary term. 

Bishimbayev was accused of murder and torture in connection with the death of his wife in November of last year. He maintained his innocence for weeks before confessing in court last month that he had “inadvertently” battered her to death. 

In November, the remains of Saltanat Nukenova, age 31, were discovered in a restaurant that belonged to a relative of hers. 

The defendant, a father of four, is captured on disturbing CCTV footage dragging his wife by the hair before striking and kicking her.

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The incident was documented for hours before she succumbed to cerebral trauma. 

At first, the attorneys for Bishimbayev challenged medical evidence that suggested Ms Nukenova perished as a result of multiple strikes to the head. 

In addition, they portrayed her as possessive and violent, even though no restaurant security camera footage that was presented in court depicted her assaulting Bishimbayev. 

A 2018 study endorsed by UN Women estimates that domestic violence claims the lives of approximately 400 women annually in Kazakhstan, with a significant number of such incidents evading reporting. 

What response has been elicited by the trial? 

As a result of the traumatic death of Ms. Nukenova, tens of thousands of individuals across the nation have signed a petition demanding stricter penalties be imposed on those responsible for domestic violence. 

The signatures prompted senators to approve “Saltanat’s Law,” a measure that toughens spousal abuse laws, last month. 

Ms Nukenova’s brother and a key prosecution witness, Aitbek Amangeldy, told the Associated Press that he did not doubt that the lamentable demise of his sister has altered public perceptions of domestic violence. 

When individuals can witness firsthand what torture appears like, their perspectives are transformed.

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