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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Convictions Upheld in Kazakhstan

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan's highest court on Friday upheld the conviction of 10 men of involvement in the killing of an opposition politician, turning down appeals from the victim's and defendants' representatives, who demanded further investigation.

Relatives have said the February killing of Altynbek Sarsenbayev of the opposition Nagyz Ak Zhol party was politically motivated and accused authorities of shielding the real perpetrators.

Sarsenbayev, his driver and bodyguard were abducted in the commercial capital, Almaty, and their bodies were later found in the mountains.

A regional court ruled in August that the murder was ordered by Senate administration chief Erzhan Utembayev after Sarsenbayev made a critical remark about him in an interview. The court sentenced Rustam Ibragimov to death, finding him guilty of carrying out the murders. Utembayev, who insists he is innocent, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Petr Svoik, a member of the opposition alliance For a Fair Kazakhstan, said Friday that the appeals hearings were rushed and that lawyers were not given a chance to present their arguments.