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Former Kazakh PM calls for police probe

‘Investigation needed into alleged crimes against humanity’

Rakhat Aliyev has been linked to allegations of illegal detention and torture in a former Kazakhstan regime.

Rakhat Aliyev has been linked to allegations of illegal detention and torture in a former Kazakhstan regime.

The former Prime Minister of Kazakhstan yesterday complained in a Maltese court that the Police Commissioner was shirking his responsibilities in not investigating a political rival of theirs, Rakhat Aliyev, who had sought refuge in Malta.

Akezhan Kazhegeldin – who served as Prime Minister until he resigned in October 1997 for health reasons – and his bodyguards Satzhan Ibraev and Pyotr Afanasenko argued that once Mr Aliyev was a permanent resident in Malta, he should be investigated for “crimes against humanity”.

They formalised their claim yesterday in an application to the Magistrates’ Court demanding that the Police Commissioner investigate Mr Aliyev, who was now using his wife’s surname of Shoraz.

Mr Aliyev, they claimed, was responsible for the illegal detention and torture of Mr Ibraev and Mr Afanasenko during the administration of his father-in-law, the former Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Their arguments were met with a passionate rebuttal from Deputy Attorney General Donnatella Frendo Dimech, who said the Maltese authorities had no jurisdiction over the alleged crimes since Mr Aliyev was not a permanent resident in Malta.

“Malta never shied away from her responsibilities and will certainly not do so now,” she said.

At one point during the proceedings, lawyer Joseph Giglio, appearing for Mr Aliyev, said that the alleged victims were trying to throw mud using the media.

“Don’t you think for one minute that Mr Aliyev is scared of your allegations,” Dr Giglio said, before being told to pipe down by Magistrate Antonio Mizzi.

In apologising the lawyer said he was frustrated that while these proceedings directly concerned his client he was precluded from making any arguments.

Shortly afterwards, Dr Giglio told the magistrate that he had been informed by members of the press in the court room that people sitting in the public gallery with Mr Afanasenko had taken his photo using a mobile phone, something that was strictly prohibited.

Magistrate Mizzi ordered lawyer Cedric Mifsud, representing the alleged victims, to inform his clients this was not done in Malta.

Dr Frendo Dimech continued that police authorities in Austria were currently investigating Mr Aliyev and their Maltese counterparts were cooperating and gathering evidence. However, they stopped short of extraditing him due to concerns for his safety.

But Dr Mifsud said Malta would be sending the wrong message with its failure to investigate the case.

“We are sending the message to criminals that if you want to escape justice then come to tax-haven Malta.”

He questioned how someone like Mr Aliyev who was a “multi-millionaire if not a billionaire” could reside in Malta with no red flags being raised by the authorities or even the banks.

Mariella Grech, the director of citizenship at the department of expatriates, told the court Mr Aliyev had come to Malta using his Austrian wife’s name, under the scheme which granted wealthy foreigners a flat tax rate of 15 per cent.

As a third-country national married to a European citizen, he was automatically granted a residency card.

She said that in February last year he renounced his permanent residency and so remained with only a residency card that is granted, for example, to third country nationals married to European citizens. He did not have permanent residency status.

Following the testimony, the magistrate requested that the parties make written submissions to be filed before December 5.

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