Kazakhstan rioters jailed after deadly protest

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Kazakhstan rioters jailed after deadly protest

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A Kazakhstan court has handed down prison sentences for 13 people accused of taking part in deadly riots last December.

Most of the 37 people on trial avoided jail, with three of them acquitted. Those to be locked up will spend between three and six years behind bars.

As relatives crammed into the courtroom in the western city of Aktau, scuffles broke out between security and family members, who shouted to their loved ones as they stood in the glass box, surrounded by police.

“I hope my son is acquitted. My grandsons miss him already – they have forgotten what their father looks like,” said Gulnar Karakulova outside the court.

At least 14 people died in riots in the Kazakh oil town of Zhanaozen in December 2011.

Police fired live rounds at demonstrators who, they say, became violent after a month-long protest about job losses.

The unrest happened on the 20th anniversary of the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.