Author Topic: French court authorises extradition of Kazakh tycoon Ablyazov  (Read 1223 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline mayya

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 7874
French court authorises extradition of Kazakh tycoon Ablyazov
« on: October 25, 2014, 22:33:50 PM »
24 October 2014 - 21H06

French court authorises extradition of Kazakh tycoon Ablyazov

© AFP / by Pierre Pratabuy | Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, an opposition figure wanted on embezzlement charges by Russia and Ukraine, arrives at a French court under police protection on October 17, 2014

LYON (AFP) - A French court on Friday authorised the extradition of exiled Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov to Russia and Ukraine, despite concerns over his safety if the move goes ahead.
Ablyazov, a former minister turned opposition figure and banker turned fugitive, is wanted by Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan on embezzlement charges which he says were trumped up by his arch-foe Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of his oil-rich nation.

After months on the run he was arrested on the French Riviera in July last year and France has since been grappling with the vast and tangled case of what to do with the 51-year-old.
The court in the southeast city of Lyon said priority would be given to Russia for the extradition. The scale of the embezzlement alleged by Moscow of $5 billion (four billion euros) is far greater than that alleged by Ukraine of $400 million.

A French court had already ruled in favour of his extradition in January, but this decision was subsequently overturned by an appeals court in April and the case was re-examined.
Ablyazov was once a member of the inner circle of the Kazakhstan elite and served as energy and trade minister before his fall from grace.

He was jailed in 2002 for abuse of power and illegal business activities after co-founding and leading an opposition party, in a move widely seen as a bid to silence him.

He was quickly pardoned and released, however, and became chief executive of the BTA bank, which was nationalised in 2009 after facing collapse when the global financial crisis struck.
Soon after, Ablyazov fled to Britain over accusations he had stolen billions of dollars in state and investors' funds from the bank, which also had interests in Ukraine and Russia.
However he did not have an easy time in London where his passport was seized and assets frozen as BTA filed numerous civil claims against him.

He fled London sometime in 2012 after he was sentenced to 22 months in jail for contempt of court for trying to hide assets.

The father-of-four is then thought to have moved to Italy before private detectives tracked him to a villa in the south of France.

- 'Political pawn' -
Ablyazov's supporters believe he will be in danger wherever he is extradited to.
Chess legend Garry Kasparov, whose demand last week to testify in the case was turned down, believes Moscow will hand the oligarch over to Kazakhstan.

Kasparov, who has become a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Ablyazov "will be a pawn in (Putin's) political game with Nazarbayev."
He said the Russian leader "needs Nazarbayev's support in Crimea, Ukraine and major geopolitical issues."

Amnesty International also raised concerns about Ablyazov's extradition, saying he faced "serious human rights violations."

"Not only do we have fears that Ablyazov would not get a fair trial in Russia, there is the real danger that he will eventually end up in Kazakhstan, where he will be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment," Julia Hall, Amnesty's expert on counter-terrorism and human rights, said in a statement.
But Antonin Levy, BTA's lawyer, retorted that the decision showed that "repeated efforts by Mr. Ablyazov to present himself as a victim of political persecution are only a desperate attempt to divert attention from his criminal activities."

But this is not the end of the journey for Ablyazov, who can still take the case to France's final appeals court -- the Cour de Cassation -- the State Council, which is the country's top administrative court, and the European Court of Human Rights.

by Pierre Pratabuy
© 2014 AFP