The first sentences have started to be handed down in Aktau against the oil strikers and their supporters who were put on trial following the massacre by state forces on December 16, 2011.
Following the shootings, strikers in the city of Shepte took to the streets in a solidarity demonstration and blockaded the main railway lines. The police used force to break up their protest, shooting into the crowd and killing one. Twelve of the protesters were arrested and charged with organizing “mass disorder”.
Four of the accused have received severe sentences. Avezov Kazhymurat got seven years in a “strict regime” colony; three others will be in “general regime” colonies, Mambetov Erzhan for three years, Sabyrbaev Nurbolat for four years and Bakhytzhan Gabiden for five years. The remainder of those accused were found guilty, but will not serve any sentences as the “amnesty” currently in force will be applied.
While it is true that under international pressure and due to the lack of convincing evidence (the investigators use torture to get the answers they want), the judge did not dare to impose the maximum sentences on the accused, the regime is clearly not willing to back down completely and acknowledge that these workers should not have been in court in the first place. It remains to be seen what sentences the judge decides to risk against those accused from Zhenaozen itself.