Kazakh Journalist Libel Case Sent For Further Study

TURKISTAN, Kazakhstan -- A court in Kazakhstan’s southern city of Turkistan has sent the case against journalist Amangeldy Batyrbekov, who was sentenced to 2 years and 10 months on libel charges in September, back for further information.

The Turkistan Regional Court ruled on November 25 that the conclusion of a linguistic commission on Batyrbekov's online posts, which were written in Kazakh, "do not correspond to regulations and therefore additional linguistic studies must be performed on the posts."

A court in the town of Saryaghash, on September 23, found Batyrbekov, who has denied any wrongdoing, guilty of insulting the dignity and honor of a local education official, Bakhtiyar Abdiev, in a Facebook post titled "Idiocy in Keles" and sentenced him the same day.

In 2017, Batyrbekov was sentenced to 18 months of freedom limitation -- a suspended sentence with parole-like restrictions -- for insulting a deputy prosecutor in the Saryaghash district in a newspaper article.

The Almaty-based Adil Soz (A Just Word) human rights group has called Batyrbekov a prisoner of conscience, while the Committee to Protect Journalists has called for all charges to be dropped.

International human rights organization have called on Kazakhstan to revoke an article in the criminal code that sets out criminal prosecution for libel instead of making it a civil case.