ASTANA, Kazakhstan (F18) — Presbyterian pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev’s son Askar describes the new criminal case against the retired pastor on charges of extremism as “complete rubbish.” The charges carry a seven-year prison term. “They’re trying to turn my father into a terrorist,” Askar complained to Forum 18 News Service. Kashkumbayev was arrested minutes after he was freed from prison in Astana after five months’ pre-trial detention on separate criminal charges of harming a church member’s health. Police investigator Captain Vyacheslav Glazkov, the Police Anti-Extremism Department (which is overseeing the case), the KNB secret police and the city Prosecutor’s Office all refused to comment. The prison chief where Kashkumbayev is being held dismissed concerns over his health. “People don’t die here in my prison,” he told Forum 18.
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