Kazakhstani Human Rights Defender Yevgeni Zhovtis convicted for manslaughter. Hivos calls for fair trial.
Mr. Zhovtis expressed his moral responsibility for the fatal accident -not the criminal responsibility- and has offered Kanat Moldabaev’s family an amount of US$15,000 by way of compensation for their loss, which they accepted. Last Friday, the court sentenced him to imprisonment, after a short trial.
The newly established Committee to Protect Yevgeny Zhovtis announced that it is confident that the verdict against Zhovtis is illegal and politically motivated. They consider him a political prisoner.
Hivos also has the impression that Yevgeni Zhovtis was convicted after a politically motivated unfair trial, and that in fact the court used this car accident to punish him for being one of the leading human rights defenders in Kazakhstan for the past two decades and for criticizing the government on several occasions.
This conviction of Zhovtis would fit in a pattern. In the past, KIBHR has faced mysterious arson in its head office, fines and reputation damage after elaborate tax inspections, and conviction of staff based on fabricated political trials (like Sergei Duvanov). The judiciary is not independent in Kazakhstan.
Hivos has been in close contact with Yevgeni Zhovtis since 1993. Hivos supports the organisation KIBHR since 2000. Zhovtis’ reputation is undoubted. Many international organisations and embassies in Kazakhstan use his analyses of the domestic situation and his advices. Mass media often ask his opinion on developments.
Hivos regrets the death of Kanat Moldabaev and wishes his family and friends strength in overcoming this loss. At the same time, Hivos condemns the verdict against Yevgeni Zhovtis and calls for a fair trial.