ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN – Prison for Christian pastor “a threat to the mental health of the people”

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Astana (Agenzia Fides) – Christian preaching is “extremely harmful to mental health of the people”: this is the conviction of the judges in an Astana law court where on these grounds the Kazak Christian pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumayev has been sentenced to four years in prison. It was reported to Fides that the Pastor, who is responsible for the Grace Church in the Kazak capital Astana was found guilty of “causing serious mental disorder” to a presumed victim Lyazzat Almenova. The Pastor will also have to pay a heavy fine (two million tenge, about 6,500 euro, editors note) for the “moral damage” inflicted. The 67 year old Pastor intends to appeal against the sentence. His lawyer Nurlan Beysekeyev, told the NGO Forum 18 that this is one of the “strangest cases he has ever come across, in terms of legality ”, noting numerous abuses on the part of the institutions.
Pastor Kashkumayev was reported by the sister of the presumed victim. Ms Lyazzat was taken to a psychiatric hospital where the doctors diagnosed “paranoid schizophrenia”. Other witnesses accused the Pastor of running “a religious extremist organization, a threat to the health of the people”, considerations accepted by the judges in Astana. The juridical status of the Grace Church has for some time been targeted by Kazak institutions says Forum18 in the report sent to Fides – and now it could be in danger. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 1/3/2014)