Rakhat Aliyev victims vow to take their case to Strasbourg

Nov 25. Malta Today

By Matthew Vella

Rakhat Aliyev victims vow to take their case to StrasbourgLawyer Lothar de Maizi?re says it would be “embarrassing” for Malta if he was forced to take his clients’ case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The former prime minister of Kazakhstan and his two bodyguards have vowed to seek justice in the European Court of Human Rights if the Maltese courts do not accede to their request to have the police investigate an allegation of human rights violations by multi-millionaire Rakhat Aliyev, currently living in exile in Malta.

Their lawyer, Lothar de Maizi?re, came to the island earlier this week to hold meetings with representatives from the government and the Opposition, explaining why the accusations by Akezhan Kazhegeldin, 60, and bodyguards Satzhan Ibraev and Pyotr Afanasenko, should be investigated by the Maltese police.

“Our ultimate goal is to convince the Maltese judicial system to treat these allegations seriously,” De Maizi?re, 72, who served as the only democratically elected Prime Minister of the German Democratic Republic, told MaltaToday.

Kazhegeldin’s bodyguards allege they were tortured under interrogation and in prison, on orders and personally by Rakhat Aliyev, 49, who in 2000 served as the deputy head of the Kazakh secret service.

They allege that Aliyev tortured them in a bid to extract a forced confession that Kazhegeldin planned a coup d’etat against his then father-in-law, the president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Since then, Aliyev’s fortunes have dramatically changed: in 2008 he was sentenced in absentia by a Kazakh court of having commissioned the murder of two Nurbank bankers; his father-in-law stripped him of his diplomatic immunity while he was in Vienna serving as ambassador. An extradition order was refused by Austria, but the Viennese prosecutor has started its own investigations into the murder and has even questioned Aliyev in the Maltese courts.

Kazhegeldin’s reques to the courts to order the Commissioner of Police to investigate the torture claims – which complaint was made on four separate instances but turned down by the police commissioner – risks being thrown out. According to the Attorney General, who represents the police, Malta has no jurisdiction on these crimes which were committed in Kazakhstan.

“Austrian justice has been quite slow so far on the case,” De Maizi?re told MaltaToday. “But even European Commissioner for justice Viviane Reding has called on Eurojust to instruct member states connected to this case to step up their investigations. This is why Aliyev has left Austria and come to Malta.”

Aliyev arrived in Malta in 2010, obtaining a permanent residence permit under tax exile rules for buyers of high-end property, and later renouncing this permit for a residence permit he acquired as the husband of his Austrian wife Elnara Shorazova. Aliyev also lives in Malta under the assumed surname Shoraz.

“I obviously disagree with the Attorney General’s position that there is no jurisdiction, which is why I will wait for the judge’s ruling, and will exhaust all remedies available before taking this case further and into the European Court of Human Rights. “I know this is difficult: but the investigation of gross violations of human rights applies to any European country. It would be embarrassing for Malta if we were forced to go to Strasbourg,” De Maizi?re said.