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Kazakhstan23 June 2005

Call for enquiry into road accident that killed opposition journalist

Reporters Without Borders called today for an investigation of a road accident that eventually killed pro-opposition journalist Batyrkhan Darimbet, editor of the opposition weekly Azat, noting that others had died in similar circumstances in recent years. Darimbet died on 7 June, six days after receiving serious head injuries in a crash near the city, on the road to Almaty.

"We are sceptical about this supposed accident," the worldwide press freedom organisation said, "since several other opposition journalists have died this way in the past few years. We call on interior minister Zautbek Turisbekov to open an impartial enquiry into a possible murder. We shall monitor developments closely."

Darimbet, who also contributed to the radio station Azatyk, had been in Taraz to set up a local branch of DVK, an opposition group he set up after the banning of the Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan (DVK) party.

A car crashed into his jeep late at night on 1 June near the village of Lugovoye and the jeep overturned. Darimbet, the only person hurt, was taken to hospital in Taraz. A similar accident occurred on the same road on 16 November 2002, killing another opposition journalist, Nuri Muftakh. Five opposition journalists have been killed in road accidents in Kazakhstan since 2002.

Askhat Sharipzhanov, of the online newspaper Navigator (www.navi.kz), died in hospital in Almaty on 20 July last year, five days after being injured when a car crashed into him as he left his offices.




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