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Fugitive Kazakh Banker Ablyazov's Trial Starts In Almaty

Kazakh opposition figure and oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov (left), flanked by his lawyers, reacts as he leaves the Fleury-Merogis jail after being released, near Paris, in December 2016.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan is trying fugitive tycoon and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov in absentia.

Ablyazov's three lesser-known co-defendants were in the courtroom for the start of trial in Almaty on April 3. One of the co-defendants pleaded guilty and two pleaded partially guilty.

Ablyazov has been living in self-imposed exile in the European Union since 2009.

Investigators say Ablyazov and his subordinates embezzled some $5 billion while running BTA Bank in Kazakhstan. Ablyazov denies it, saying the case against him is politically motivated.

Ablyazov, who is also wanted in Russia, was arrested in France in 2013 after months on the run.

He was released from jail on December 9 after France's highest administrative court canceled an order for his extradition to Russia, saying the request had been made for political reasons.

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