Poachers get life for murder of Kazakh antelope defender
Published on: Saturday, February 22, 2020
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A man walks in front of a Soviet-era apartment bloc decorated with a mural depicting ranger Yerlan Nurgaliyev cradling a baby saiga in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
KARAGANDA: A court in Kazakhstan on Friday sentenced three poachers to life in prison for beating to death a state ranger charged with protecting the endangered saiga antelope.

In a high-profile case that shook the Central Asian nation, a group of poachers attacked two rangers on duty in January last year. One of the rangers, 52-year-old Yerlan Nurgaliyev, died of his injuries in a hospital.

His death highlighted the scale of poaching in Kazakhstan, home to the largest population of saiga in the world. Another ranger was shot dead attempting to apprehend poachers in July last year.

Seven poachers were detained after the attack and charged. The court in the central Kazakh city of Karaganda on Friday convicted three of them of murder, attempted murder and illegal hunting, handing them life sentences.

The four others were convicted of illegal hunting and sentenced to six years in prison each. 

Almat Kaskyrbai, a lawyer representing the slain ranger’s son, welcomed the “tough” verdict but said the state should have done more to protect rangers, including by providing them with proper equipment. 

“There needs to be an investigation to prevent this from happening in the future,” he said. 

Nurgaliyev has been hailed as a folk hero—a state official of integrity in a country where endemic corruption has fuelled dissatisfaction. – AFP


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