30 January 2007
Court sentences journalist to two years' imprisonment on probation for "insulting president"; lawyer to appeal
(Adil Soz/IFEX) - On January 22, the Bostandyk district court in Almaty sentenced journalist Kazis Toguzbayev to two years in prison, on probation, under Article 318 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan for "insulting the honor and dignity of the President of Kazakhstan".
The ruling, in fact, means that the journalist, if hecontinues his critical reporting, will be thrown in prison.
The charges stem from two of his articles on the news site http://www.kub.kz
entitled, "Mafia regime shadows the murderers of Altynbek Sarsenbayev" and "Roman Catholic Pope and Astana Pope - feel the difference".
Court proceedings were initiated following a report by the Justice Ministry's Center of Court Expertise, which found the articles to be insulting the honor and dignity of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, in particular the sentence: "In a certain respect, he did commit the murder of Sarsenbayev."
Both the journalist and his attorney say that the meaning of this sentence refers to a constitutional provision, which stipulates that the president is the guarantor of rights and liberties of any Kazakhstan citizen. Toguzbayev's attorney plans to appeal the court decision.