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Kazakh Trial Of Jehovah's Witness Gets Under Way

Teimur Akhmedov (left), in the defendant's cage, and his lawyers in an Astana courtroom on March 27.

ASTANA -- The trial of a Jehovah's Witness charged with inciting interethnic enmity has begun in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana.

The court on April 6 began hearing the case of Teimur Akhmedov, 60, who was arrested in January for what the Committee for National Security (KNB) described as propagating ideas that "disrupt interreligious and interethnic concord" in the country.

The U.S. Embassy in Astana has sent a representative to monitor the case.

Likewise, Diana Okremova, the director of the local Media Law Center NGO, attended, as well as relatives of the defendant and local Jehovah's Witnesses.

An RFE/RL correspondent was the only journalist present at the trial, and the judge allowed her to make written notes.

Akhmedov, who is undergoing cancer treatment, pleaded not guilty at a preliminary hearing on March 27.

If convicted, Akhmedov faces up to 10 years in prison.