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OSCE: Trial of  Kazakh Journalist  Sergei Duvanov  Significantly Flawed - 2003-01-30

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is calling for an immediate review of the trial of a prominent Kazakh journalist, who was sentenced Tuesday to three-and-a-half years in prison on rape charges. He has denied the rape charge, which he and his supporters say was fabricated by the government. The organization believes the trial was politically motivated.

OSCE institutions dealing with human rights and media freedom are calling for a review by the Appeals Court of the trial of Kazakh journalist, Sergei Duvanov, 49.

The OSCE says the trial was, "significantly flawed."

The acting director of the OSCE Office for Human Rights and Democracy, Steven Wagenseil, has called for a full review of allegations that the trial was political.

Foreign observers at the trial say neither Mr. Duvanov, nor his lawyers were given enough time to prepare his defense. The OSCE says, even the trial judge admitted there were irregularities, but did nothing about them.

Mr. Duvanov, a human rights defender, had repeatedly faced problems for criticizing the authoritarian rule of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. He was arrested last October, shortly before he was due to travel to the United States to receive an award for his writings.

The U.S. State Department has expressed concern at what it calls the lack of due process of law in the trial.

Kazakh diplomats told the OSCE there was enough evidence presented at the trial. They say it was a normal criminal case, and not politically motivated.

Kazakhstan is a member of the 55-nation OSCE, and its diplomats indicated it agrees, at least in principle, to a visit by legal experts to discuss the case.