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ASTANA — A Kazakh court has set a date for the high-profile trial of a well-known journalist charged with extorting money from officials.

The court in Astana ruled on January 11 that Bigeldy Gabdullin will go on trial on January 17.

Gabdullin pleaded guilty at the preliminary hearing on January 11, saying he regretted his deeds.

His lawyer Amanzhol Mukhamedyarov asked the judge to drop the charges against his client, saying that he had paid more than $60,000 to the victims.

Judge Baghlan Idrisov rejected the request.

Gabdullin was arrested in mid-November and charged with extorting cash from state officials by publishing materials damaging their reputations.

Gabdullin, 61, became known in the 1990s for his critical articles about President Nursultan Nazarbaev. In the early 2000s, he had to flee the country for the United States in fear for his life.

In 2004, Gabdullin changed his political views and returned to Kazakhstan, where he became the editor in chief of the pro-government Central Asia Monitor newspaper. He also founded the online news portal.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

By kadmin