Kazakhstan: Date set for verdicts in former Almaty mayor trial

ASTANA (TCA) — Verdicts in the trial of the former Almaty Mayor Viktor Khrapunov and his relatives and former associates will be pronounced next week, a Kazakhstan court said on October 2, RFE/RL reported.

Judge Qasym Qalmaghambetov set October 8 as the date for verdicts to be pronounced in the high-profile case.

Khrapunov and his wife, Leila Kharpunova, who are living in Switzerland, are being tried in absentia on charges of fraud, creating and running an organized-crime group, money laundering, abuse of office, and embezzlement.

Their relative Ayar Ilyasov is also being tried in absentia on the same charges.

Nine other defendants, most of them former subordinates of Khrapunov, pleaded guilty at the trial. Last week prosecutors asked the court to convict and sentence Khrapunov to 20 years, his wife to 17 years, and Ilyasov to 8 years in prison.

Khrapunov was mayor of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city, between 1997 and 2004.

He was later appointed governor of the East Kazakhstan region, but was dismissed from that post in 2007 and served for a short time as emergency situations minister.

Khrapunov and his family moved to Switzerland in 2007 in the wake of a scandal surrounding parcels of land that he was accused of distributing illegally during his tenure as mayor.

Khrapunov has rejected the charges against him and his wife, saying they are politically motivated. Khrapunov’s stepson, Ilyas Khrapunov, is married to a daughter of fugitive Kazakh tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov, a critic of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Ablyazov has been living in self-imposed exile in Europe since 2009.

Ablyazov was tried in absentia in Almaty in June 2017 and sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of organizing and leading a criminal group, abuse of office, embezzlement, and financial mismanagement.

Ablyazov has also maintained his innocence, calling his trial politically motivated.

Rights activists and critics say the long-ruling Nazarbayev has persistently suppressed dissent, prolonged his time in office through undemocratic votes, and used the levers of power to neutralize potential opponents.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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