Five police officers were jailed on Monday for their heavy-handed response to a protest by striking oil workers in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan last year, the Novosti-Kazakhstan news agency said.
At least 15 people died as police put down a protest by oil workers in the country's southwest city of Zhanaozen in December 2011. Opposition figures say the real death toll was around 70 and that the violence began when riot police attacked the rally with automatic weapons. Unconfirmed video footage posted by Kazakh human rights activists appears to show police shooting on numerous occasions into fleeing protesters.
Over 100 protesters were also injured in the violence. No police officers were hurt.
The European Parliament "strongly condemned the violent crackdown by the police forces."
Police said strikers attacked a number of buildings, including the office of the KazMunaiGaz oil company. They also accuse protesters of setting cars on fire and looting shops and banks.
The five officers were given sentences of between five and seven years.
Kazakhstan’s prosecutor general’s office said before the trial that police had generally acted in line with the law during the protests, but that in certain cases, their use of arms and other anti-riot equipment was inappropriate.
Protesters had also been calling for the resignation of Kazakhstan's long-serving leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and his government.