Ex-minister sentenced to 24 years for killing wife

Kuandyk Bishimbayev, who served as Kazakhstan’s economy minister, was found guilty of the torture and murder of his 31-year-old wife

A court in Kazakhstan on Monday sentenced a former cabinet minister to 24 years in prison for brutally beating his wife to death. Kuandyk Bishimbayev, 44, was found guilty of the torture and murder of 31-year-old Saltanat Nukenova.
The shocking murder took place in early November last year at a restaurant in the country’s capital Astana, where the two had apparently met to resolve their problems before the intoxicated Bishimbayev murdered the woman.
Evidence presented to the court suggested that Nukenova had tried to leave her husband multiple times, claiming that he beat her on several occasions.
CCTV footage played during the trial reportedly showed Bishimbayev repeatedly punching and kicking his wife, and dragging her into a room by her hair while nearly naked. The CCTV footage, which the former minister tried to destroy, was reportedly so graphic that members of the jury were driven to tears while watching it.
Videos were also found on Bishimbayev’s mobile phone showing him humiliating and insulting his visibly bruised wife in the final hours before her death.
During the trial, Bishimbayev admitted to beating his wife, but denied torturing or planning to murder her. He also claimed that some of her injuries were self-inflicted.

Members of Kazakhstan diaspora and supporters hold banners while attending ‘Justice for Saltanat’ rally at the Main Square in Krakow, Poland on April 21, 2024.

© Getty Images / NurPhoto / Contributor

The murder sparked vocal public condemnation and helped build support for a recently passed law criminalizing domestic violence.
Bishimbayev was ultimately convicted of “murder with special cruelty” and “torture,” but the prison term he received was less than the life sentence that his wife’s family had demanded. He reportedly gasped ‘why’ as the verdict was read by the judge.
The politician’s cousin, Bakytzhan Baizhanov, was jailed for four years for helping him cover up the crime.
Bishimbayev served as Kazakhstan’s economy minister from May-December 2016 under the country’s then-president Nursultan Nazarbayev, with whom he reportedly had a close relationship.
He was previously sentenced to ten years in prison on corruption charges in 2018 before being pardoned by Nazarbayev after serving less than two years.
Current Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who replaced Nazarbayev five years ago, has criminalized domestic violence; last month he enacted new laws which protect women and children.