Kazakh cops jailed for attacking protesters
Astana: Five police officers have been sent to jail for their heavy-handed response to a protest by striking oil workers in Kazakhstan last year.
At least 15 people died as police put down a protest by oil workers in the southwest city of Zhanaozen in December 2011, the Novosti-Kazakhstan news agency said.
The five officers were given sentences of between five and seven years.
The Kazakhstan opposition says the real toll was around 70, and that the violence began when riot police attacked the rally with automatic weapons.
Video footage posted by Kazakh human rights activists appears to show police shooting on numerous occasions into fleeing protesters.
Over 100 protesters were injured in the violence. No police officers were hurt.
The European Parliament "strongly condemned the violent crackdown by the police forces".
Police said the protesters attacked a number of buildings, including the office of the KazMunaiGaz oil company. The protesters are also accused of setting cars on fire and looting shops and banks.
Kazakhstan's prosecutor general's office said before the trial that police had generally acted in line with the law during the protests, but that in certain cases, their use of arms and other anti-riot equipment was inappropriate.