Kazakh court frees ex-CEO of state nuclear firm

ALMATY (Reuters) - A court in Kazakhstan on Tuesday set free former state nuclear firm chief executive Mukhtar Dzhakishev, whose conviction on corruption charges in 2010 many government critics called politically motivated.

Dzhakishev has served about 11 years of his 14-year sentence and his family and supporters - who broadcast live from the court hearing in the city of Semey on Tuesday - have urged his release on health grounds.

Dzhakishev, who had led Kazatomprom through a period of rapid growth in the early 2000s, ended up in prison shortly after his friend Mukhtar Ablyazov fell out with then-president Nursultan Nazarbayev and fled the oil-rich nations, accusing its government of illegally seizing his assets.

The government of Kazakhstan, in turn, accused both Ablyazov and Dzhakishev of embezzlement in separate criminal cases.

Ablyazov now lives in France while his Kazakhstan-based political movement routinely stages public protests against Nazarbayev and his protege and successor, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Kim Coghill