COPENHAGEN, 21 May 2010 – Matteo Mecacci (Italy) said today that it is up to the Kazakh authorities to urgently find a just conclusion to the case of the human rights defender Yevgeny Zhovtis, who is serving a four year sentence at a penal colony in Ust-Kamenogorsk following a fatal traffic accident last year.
Domestic legal experts and international observers at his trial reported numerous procedural violations, and questioned whether he was given adequate ability to mount a defence. Opposition parties in Kazakhstan have also raised concerns about the sentencing.
In his report to OSCE PA President Joao Soares, Mr. Mecacci, who met with Mr. Zhovtis on 13 May, also said that this case raises serious questions about the respect for the individual to receive a fair trial in Kazakhstan.
Mr. Zhovtis has been subjected too long to a sentence he does not deserve, he reported, adding that the Kazakh OSCE Chairmanship has a special responsibility, like all previous OSCE chairs, to make sure that the OSCE commitments in the field of human dimension are respected.
Mr. Mecacci, Rapporteur of the Assembly’s committee on human dimension issues, is the first OSCE PA representative to meet with Mr. Zhovtis in prison. The visit was conducted in agreement with the Kazakh authorities and supported by the OSCE Centre in Astana.