A court in Kazakhstan has granted early release to ailing activist Kenzhebek Abishev, who has been declared a political prisoner by domestic human rights groups.
Bakhytzhan Toreghozhina, a leading member of the Almaty-based human rights group Ar, Rukh, Khaq (Dignity, Spirit, Truth), told RFE/RL that the Qapshaghai city court said on September 27 it had granted Abishev early release, with the ruling to take effect in 15 days if prosecutors do not appeal it.
In early February, the court ruled that Abishev could be released more than three years early for good behavior, a procedure allowed by Kazakh law.
However, the Almaty regional prosecutor's office appealed the ruling at the very last moment, arguing that the activist's good behavior in custody was not enough to secure his early release, since he still had more than three years to serve.
The court then scrapped the move, saying only that it was satisfying the prosecutor's request. Abishev's lawyers then reapplied for early release.
Abishev was sentenced to seven years in prison in December 2018 after he and two other activists were found guilty of planning a 'holy war' because they were spreading the ideas of the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement. His prison term was later cut by eight months.
In mid-April, Abishev, who has rejected all the charges and called the entire case politically motivated, was rushed from prison to a hospital in Qapshaghai after his condition worsened due to a hunger strike that he started to protest the February cancellation of his release and prison conditions in general.
Physicians then diagnosed Abishev with coronary heart disease.
The DVK was founded by Mukhtar Ablyazov, an outspoken critic of the Kazakh government who has been residing in France for several years.
Ablyazov has organized unsanctioned anti-government rallies in Kazakhstan via the Internet in recent years.
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Washington DC 20036