Former Economy Minister Gets 24 Years in Prison for Beating His Wife to Death — A Murder Case That Shocked Kazakhstan

By Jace Dela Cruz

May 14, 2024 07:52 AM EDT

A former economy minister of Kazakhstan was sentenced to 24 years in prison on Monday for beating his wife to death.

Former Economy Minister of Kazakhstan Found Guilty of Murdering Wife

A court in Kazakhstan's capital of Astana found former economy minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev, 44, guilty of torturing and murdering his 31-year-old wife, Saltanat Nukenova, last year.

According to Reuters, CCTV footage played during the trial showed Bishimbayev arguing with his wife on the night of November 9, the day she died. The former economy minister was also seen in a separate video of punching and kicking his wife before dragging her by the hair into a restaurant's room, where she died.

Videos recovered on his phone also showed Bishimbayev insulting and humiliating his bruised and bloodied wife hours before she lost consciousness.

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Members of the media gather in front of a screen showing a live courtroom broadcast during the preliminary hearing in the trial of Kazakh former economy minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev, who is charged with "particularly cruel murder" and "torture" for killing his wife, at a court in Astana on March 11, 2024.
(Photo : STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Former Economy Minister of Kazakhstan Denies Torturing or Planning to Murder His Wife

For weeks, Kuandyk Bishimbayev had maintained his innocence during the trial but later admitted to beating Saltanat Nukenova that "unintentionally" caused her death. The former economy minister also asserted that some injuries were self-inflicted and has denied torturing or planning to kill his wife. 

Nukenova was found dead in the restaurant owned by one of Bishimbayev's relatives after suffering brain trauma. Bishimbayev has served as economy minister of Kazakhstan from May to December 2016.

After Nukenova's death, thousands of people called for harsher measures against domestic violence perpetrators, resulting in senators passing "Saltanat's Law" last month that toughened spousal abuse laws. According to government data, one in six women in Kazakhstan has suffered violence from a male partner. 

In 2017, Bishimbayev was arrested on bribery charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, he received an amnesty and was released on parole after less than three years behind bars.

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