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Kazakhstan jails former minister for 24 years over wife’s torture, murder

United Nations says about 400 women die from domestic violence in Kazakhstan each year, but many cases go unreported.

Warning: This article contains details of violent domestic abuse that some may find upsetting.

Kazakhstan’s top court has sentenced a former economy minister to 24 years in prison for torturing and murdering his wife, following a widely watched trial that many saw as a test of the president’s promise to strengthen women’s rights.

Kuandyk Bishimbayev, 44, was found guilty and sentenced by the Supreme Court on Monday.

His trial, which has been broadcast live over the past seven weeks, has been seen as an attempt by authorities to send a message that members of the elite are no longer above the law.

Surveillance footage played during the trial showed Bishimbayev repeatedly punching and kicking his wife, 31-year-old Saltanat Nukenova, and dragging her by her hair, near naked, into the VIP room of a restaurant owned by his family in Astana.

As she lay dying in the suite with no security cameras covered in her blood, Bishimbayev phoned a fortune teller, who assured him his wife would be fine. When an ambulance finally arrived 12 hours later, Nukenova was pronounced dead at the scene.

Videos were also found on Bishimbayev’s mobile phone in which he insulted and humiliated the visibly bruised and bloodied Nukenova in the hours before she lost consciousness on the morning of November 9 last year.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has said he wants to build a fairer society including improved rights for women.

The case has helped rally public support behind a law criminalising domestic violence, which parliament passed last month.

Days after Nukenova’s death, her relatives launched an online petition urging