Kazakh exile Rakhat Aliyev to face legal challenge in Malta

May 01. Malta Today

By Matthew Vella

Kazakh exile Rakhat Aliyev to face legal challenge in MaltaWives of murdered bodyguards to mount legal case in Malta against former son-in-law of Kazakh dictator.

Lawyers in Austria and Malta are mounting a legal challenge against Kazakhstan’s former ambassador to Austria, Rakhat Aliyev, in the name of the wives of two bodyguards who were kidnapped and later found dead in Kazakhstan.

Aliyev, the former son-in-law of Kazakh dictator Nursultan Zazarbayev, lives in self-imposed exile in Malta after he was stripped of his position and immunity in Austria, when he was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison by a Kazakh court, on charges of kidnapping bankers Zholdas Temiraliev and Aybar Khasenov.

The European Union’s agency for justice coordination Eurojust is examining the accusations made against Aliyev, especially with regards to cross-border jurisdiction.

The Austrian government has so far resisted extradition requests for Aliyev by Kazakhstan’s government, which has a poor human rights record.

Police correspondence seen by MaltaToday confirms that Aliyev is married to an EU citizen and has taken up residence in Sliema, and also goes by the surname of Shoraz.

Aliyev has also been interrogated by Maltese police, while a Viennese prosecutor – Bettina Wallner – travelled to Malta to attend the interrogation.

German MEP Elmar Brok, former chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, has even sent a letter requesting information on Aliyev’s permanent in Malta to Minister of Foreign Affairs Tonio Borg.

After being briefly detained by Austrian authorities in 2007, who acted on an arrest warrant issued in Kazakhstan, Aliyev was released on bail of €1 million.

In a book Aliyev later wrote on Nazarbayev entitled ‘Godfather-In-Law’, the entrepreneur accused the Kazakh ruler of being behind the murder of former Kazakh ambassador to Russia Altynbek Sarsenbayev.

In an interview with Austria’s Profil Magazine, Aliyev characterized his arrest as part of a Kazakhstani government offensive to restrict freedom of speech. “My only crime is that I expressed an opinion which deviates slightly from the president’s opinion. I hinted that I would like to stand for the head of state’s job myself and that I favor reforms,” he said. “This is what President Nazarbayev does to potential opponents and opposition politicians when they even just think of challenging him.”

Human Rights Watch says Kazakhstan has a disappointing human rights record. It failed to carry out meaningful rights reform during its 2010 chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and keeps tight control over freedom of assembly, religion and media.

In August 2011, a union lawyer was imprisoned for six years for speaking out on workers’ rights and Kazakhstan’s most-prominent human rights defender, Evgeniy Zhovtis, remains in prison.