Kazakhstan’s Olympic Ice Skater
In this file photo taken on 16 February 2018 Kazakhstan's Denis Ten reacts after competing in the men's single skating short program of the figure skating event . Picture: AFP

Kazakhstan on Thursday sentenced two men accused of killing Denis Ten, a figure skater who won bronze at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, to 18 years in a penal colony.

A local court in the country’s largest city Almaty found Arman Kudaibergenov and Nurali Kiyasov guilty of killing the 25-year-old skater, while attempting to steal mirrors from his car last July, according to an AFP journalist in the courtroom.

A woman was handed a four-year sentence for failing to provide information about the crime to the authorities.

Zhanar Tolybayeva knew about the crime, according to the prosecution, but failed to report it.

The prosecution demanded 20-year sentences for the two men.

The murder of Ten, who was of Korean origin, caused an outpouring of grief in Kazakhstan where he was celebrated as a national hero.

It also stirred anger towards police accused of protecting petty criminals and led to unsuccessful calls for the interior minister’s resignation.

According to the prosecution, the figure skater was twice stabbed in the femoral artery and died in hospital later.

He was trained by American skating coach Frank Carroll following a spell with Russia’s most renowned coach, Tatiana Tarasova.

Ten won silver at the World Figure Skating Championships in 2013 and bronze in 2015. He also won the 2015 Four Continents title in Seoul.

“I am ethnically Korean and I am virtually skating in my home country,” he said at the time.

At Sochi in 2014, he won bronze in the men’s free skating final.

EWN