Kazakh Chaos As Court Hands Down Zhanaozen Verdicts

By RFE/RL's Kazakh Service
Last updated (GMT/UTC): 04.06.2012 11:43
AQTAU, Kazakhstan -- A court in western Kazakhstan has sentenced 13 people to jail terms between three and seven years for inciting mass disorder in the oil town of Zhanaozen last year.
Three of the 37 defendants were acquitted, five amnestied, and 16 received suspended terms in the verdict in Aqtau.
The 37 were accused of fomenting unrest among striking oil workers in Zhanaozen, where police shot dead at least 16 people during rioting in December.
Chaos broke out in a courtroom as the verdicts were read, as some defendants tried to break out of the glass cages holding them, while relatives tossed mobile phones and other items at the judge and several women fainted.
The chaos forced the judge to leave the courtroom before pronouncing the final verdict.
A curfew and detentions followed the December violence.
Five police officials, three of them senior, were convicted last week and sentenced to between five and seven years in jail for their roles in the violence.