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Charges Against Detained Activist Zhanbolat Mamai Changed


The Bostandy District Court No 2 in Almaty held another session on the case of Zhanbolat Mamai, the leader of the unregistered opposition Democratic party in Kazakhstan on January 10th, 2023. At the meeting, state prosecutor Erkin Baimagambetov requested to bring a new charge against Zhanbolat Mamai based on the opinion of expert Rosa Akbarova and testimony given by witnesses for the prosecution.

Yevgeniy Zhovtis, renowned human rights activist and director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights, noted that the Criminal Procedure Code provides for the changing of charges, but only if the defendant’s right to defense is not violated. He noted that in this case the right to defense is violated because the new charges are associated with new evidence, new interpretations of evidence, or new witnesses. Thus, Mamai is deprived of procedural opportunities available at the pre-trial investigation stage.

Mamai, in detention since February 2022, is accused of spreading deliberately false information, insulting a representative of the state authority, and violating the procedure for organizing and holding peaceful assemblies. These charges relate to the unrest in Kazakhstan in January 2022 and Mamai’s appeal to citizens to support the protests.

Numerous human rights groups have called for Mamai’s release. An independent commission led by senior UK parliamentarians will investigate the state of human rights in Kazakhstan, including the detention and treatment of Zhanbolat Mamai. The UK commission, led by Lord MacDonald, sent a letter to the Embassy of Kazakhstan in London on October 11th, 2022 inviting the government to participate in the investigation and requesting assistance for a planned visit to Kazakhstan to interview Mamai and other key witnesses. On October 20th, 2022, members of the investigation met with representatives of Kazakhstan in the London Embassy to discuss Kazakhstan’s engagement with the commission.