Azamat TenizbayevA nap in an airplane landed the triple taekwondo champion of Kazakhstan Azamat Tenizbayev, 18, into a half-a-year-long experience of sexual harassment charges, jail, hearings, ankle bracelets and jury trial in London. Upon returning home to Kazakhstan at long last Azamat, his mother and Kazakhstan Taekwondo Federation chief held a press-conference to share the details of the ordeal and celebrate its happy ending, tengrinews reports.
Vyacheslav Kim, Taekwondo Federation President, made a sensational claim at the press-conference, when he declared that Azamat's first British lawyer deliberately deceived the teen and landed him in jail, while his interpreter was so unqualified that could translate only 40% of what the lawyer said.
The ordeal began after Azamat fell asleep during his 11-hour flight from World Championship in Mexico. His head leaned onto his neighbors shoulder, he apologized and changed his seat, but it didn't help. The teen was arrested upon landing in Heathrow airport and brought to a London police station.
A public defendant was provided to him for free by British authorities. And after communicating with the lawyer through a Kyrgyz interpreter Shynar, Azamat plead guilty in hopes of fast deportation to Kazakhstan, as his lawyer allegedly recommended.
It is unclear whether the lawyer truly gave him a recommendation of such a nature, because it would mean that the barrister was either new to the British law and unaware that the plea would put his client in jail instead of the airplane or just did a slipshod job.
It is hardly possible to reconstruct their conversation, but it is obvious that they must have had at least some communication problems: the three persons were speaking three different languages.
Azamat's native language is Kazakh, he has no knowledge of English and only some command of Russian, while Shynar was translating the English-speaking lawyer into Russian. This bring us to the first point of the possible communication failure: Azamat-Shynar.
In his speech at the press-conference the Federation chief said that Shynar translated only 40% of words that the lawyer said. If that's so, then that is where this second possible problem was: Zhynar-Lawyer. The misunderstanding could easily occur at any of the two points. And of course, it cannot be ruled out completely that the British lawyer was indeed in a hurry to be done with the Kazakh teen and gave him the poor advice. Azamat himself is absolutely sure that saying "I am guilty" was exactly the recommendation that the lawyer gave him.
At the press-conference Vyacheslav Kim promised that a lawsuit will be filed against the lawyer, but did not specify when or on whose behalf. He also did not specify on which grounds and with which evidence he was planning to prove the lawyer's ill intent. In the meanwhile, Azamat's mother clearly stated that their family was not going to sue anyone.
After Azamat ended up in jail his family hired a different lawyer for him, the one who worked for a fee this time. The new lawyer helped him persuade the judge that the confession he signed earlier was not an admission of guilt, but a result of a language-difference-driven misunderstanding. Then he got Azamat out of jail, but confined to London with ankle bracelet, on a 6 thousand pound bail.
Azamat's parents had to sell their apartment in Almaty to pay the bail, the 30 thousand fee to the lawyer and support their son while he was awaiting his trial in London.
Then, almost 6 months the initial arrest there came the jury trial. The 24-y.o. Israeli lady who filed the lawsuit use online conference to participate in the trial. She said he sexually harassed her in the airplane, he said that he was sleeping and did not harass anyone. It was her word against his.
The Kazakhstan Taekwondo Federation chief believes that both of them may have been right at the same time. The thing is that only acts of a clearly sexual nature are qualified as sexual harassment in Kazakhstan, where as in Israel or Britain the term is interpreted in a much broader sense. "Things that are considered acceptable or at least tolerable for us here could be completely inappropriate and interpreted as sexual harassment by people from the other parts of the world who have a different mentality, like the lady that was sitting next to him on that airplane," Vyacheslav Kim said.
The story had a happy ending for Azamat. The British jury of twelve unanimously declared the sporty teenager not guilty. The Taekwondo Federation of Kazakhstan promised to compensate all the expenditures to the champion's family. And Azamat probably promised to himself that he would never sleep in the airplane again.