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Kazakhs Seek Austrian Rethink On Aliev Extradition

Rakhat Aliev is wanted for his alleged involvement in kidnapping and other crimes (file) (ITAR-TASS) August 22, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The Kazakh Prosecutor-General's Office has protested to Austrian officials over the rejection of an extradition request for a former son-in-law of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

Rakhat Aliev, a former ambassador to Vienna recently divorced by Nazarbaev's daughter, Darigha, is wanted by Kazakh authorities for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and disappearance of two bank officials.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office, Saparbek Nurpeisov, announced the move at a press conference today in Astana.

"On August 17, the Kazakh Prosecutor-General's Office sent a letter to Austrian [Federal] Justice Minister [Karin] Berger expressing disagreement with the decision of the Federal Court in Vienna not to extradite Rakhat Aliev," Nurpeisov said. "The Prosecutor-General's Office has found legal ways in the Austrian legislation to make it possible to revise the case."

The Vienna court that rejected the request reasoned that Aliev could not be guaranteed a fair trial in Kazakhstan.

But Nurpeisov said the Austrian court violated fundamental judiciary principles and that the Kazakh Prosecutor-General's Office is preparing documents for a new court hearing.

Nurpeisov said a total of 35 lawsuits had been filed against Aliev, based on accusations of involvement in corruption, assault, kidnapping, and other crimes.

Aliev had significant Kazakh business interests until authorities recently seized many holdings, including Nurbank.

Move Against Aliev's Father

In a related development, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service has learned that Aliev's father was prevented from boarding a plane bound for London on August 21.

The elder Aliev is a member of Kazakhstan's Academy of Sciences.

A spokesman for Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry, Bagdat Kozhakhmetov, told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service the move was in connection with a probe into possible weapons-related charges.

"During the investigation into the disappearance of two Nurbank employees [Zholdas Timraliev and Abilmazhen Gilimov)] law-enforcement officers received information that weapons might have been stashed in the house of Rakhat Aliev's father, Mukhtar Aliev," Kozhakhmetov said.

"After receiving such information, Kazakhstan's prosecutor-general [Rashid Tusupbekov] issued a search warrant and the house of Rakhat Aliev's father, Mukhtar Aliev, was searched. In the result of the search, several guns were found in that house. A special investigation was immediately launched. Since the investigation is ongoing, he [Mukhtar Aliev] is not allowed to leave Kazakhstan."

Yevgeny Zhovtis, who heads a nongovernmental group called Kazakhstan's International Bureau for Human Rights, warned that Kazakh officials have in the past persecuted relatives of prominent critics.

(with material from Interfax)

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