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Three convicted, sentenced to 15 years, for killing U.S. journalist

June 25, 1997

ALMATY, Kazakstan (AP) _ Three men have been convicted in the killing of the American director of a journalism training program journalist and sentenced to 15 years in prison, a news agency official said Wednesday.

Chris Gehring, the 28-year-old Central Asian director of the Internews Network agency was slain in his apartment in Almaty last January. His hands and feet were tied and his throat was cut.

Oleg Katsiev, Kazakstan director for the independent agency, said the three men convicted were drug addicts seeking money. It wasn’t clear when they were sentenced.

Oleg Ivanov, 33, was charged with committing the murder, the other two as accomplices. One of them, Vitaly Burichenko, was an acquaintance of Gehring who had stolen the keys to his apartment and given them to the other two.

Although the men confessed to the crime during interrogations, they declared their innocence in court, Katsiev said.

The sentence, he said, disappointed the Gehring family. Fifteen years is the maximum prison term in Kazakstan, which also has a death penalty.

``They wanted the death sentence,″ said Katsiev.

Gehring, an Arkansas native, had worked in Kazakstan for Internews since May 1995 as part of a project to help independent media.

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