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Kazakhstan22 January 2008

German TV reporter beaten unconscious in Astana

(JPEG) German journalist Marcus Bensmann, a Central Asia specialist, was repatriated to Germany today after being seriously injured in a brutal assault on the night of 19 January in the Kazakh capital of Astana, where he had gone to prepare a report on the city for the German TV station ARD.

“We are appalled by the violence of the attack on Bensmann and we voice our full support for him and his family and colleagues,” the press freedom organisation said. “We urge the authorities to do everything possible to find those responsible and bring them to trial.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “Bensmann has not yet been able to give an account of the attack so there are many unanswered questions about its circumstances and motives. His account must be obtained as soon as possible.”(JPEG)

After arriving in Astana on 19 January, Bensmann spoke by telephone in the evening with Stefan Stuchlik, ARD’s correspondent in Moscow. This was the last contact with Bensmann before the attack. He was found unconscious later than night in a car park by its guard. All his belongings had been taken from him and he had spent several hours lying in the snow in sub-zero temperatures. He was taken to an Astana hospital with frostbite and serious injuries to the head and face, including a broken nose and jaw.

A report by Bensmann on the murder of independent Uzbek journalist Alisher Sayipov on 24 October in Kyrgyzstan was due to have been broadcast by German public TV last week but ended up being postponed. It was very critical of Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s government and Germany’s policy on Uzbekistan.

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