July 20, 2004, in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Sharipjanov, 40, an editor of the popular opposition news Web site Navigator, was hit by a car on the evening of July 16 as he was crossing a street, according to local and international press reports.
Police said blood tests indicated Sharipjanov had alcohol in his blood, but colleagues disputed the assertion, according to local press reports. Yuri Mezinov, the editor-in-chief of Navigator, said that Sharipjanov had recently received several threats from unidentified officials, The Associated Press reported. Mezinov added that a tape recorder that Sharipjanov always carried with him, which contained an interview with an opposition leader, had disappeared after the accident.
In the six months before his death, Sharipjanov had criticized President Nursultan Nazarbayev, accusing him of authoritarianism, abuse of power, bribery, and falsifying elections.
The driver, Kanat Kalzhanov, was found guilty in December of traffic violations and careless driving that resulted in a person's death, which brought a sentence of three and a half years in a low-security prison colony. The conviction was met with disappointment and skepticism by Sharipjanov's colleagues who believe the journalist's death was a contract murder, Navigator reported.
The judge in the case did not respond to a series of questions forwarded by a committee of journalists and political activists, Navigator reported. The committee asked why investigators had washed Sharipjanov's clothes after the accident, and why the editor's tape recorder, keys, some computer files, and information on his mobile phone had disappeared
Motive Unconfirmed: CPJ is investigating to determine whether the death was work-related.