El Pais: Kazakh diplomats tried to pressure judges over extradition
After his attempt to influence Pavlov's extradition was frustrated, the ambassador met with the President of the National Court. Judicial sources say that this is "inappropriate and anomalous"
Diplomats of the Kazakhstan embassy in Spain have attempted to approach National Court judges who were to make a decision with regard to the request for extradition to the country of the opposition figure Alexander Pavlov, 37, an incident that judicial sources have described as "inappropriate, anomalous, abnormal and unacceptable”. On the 15th of this month, the Council of Ministers agreed to extradite Pavlov, but an appeal by his legal counsel has managed to suspend the extradition for the moment.
The Plenum of the Criminal Division of the National Court agreed by 10 votes against 7 to extradite Pavlov, head of security of Mukhtar Ablyazov [sic], an oligarch and main leader of the opposition against the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The judges who were against the extradition issued a special opinion, in which they assure that “this is a case of political persecution disguised as [an extradition] claim for common crimes”, and alert that Pavlov's fundamental rights may be violated.
The attempt by Kazakh diplomats in Spain to contact some of the judges who were involved in deciding Pavlov's future was aborted by the judges, and escalated to the President of the National Court, Ángel de Juanes; in the end, Bakyt Dyussenbayev [sic], the ambassador in Spain of the post-Soviet republic, approached him requesting a meeting.
While De Juanes recognizes [that] the meeting [took place], a spokesperson of the embassy of Kazakhstan in Madrid states that “no diplomat of the embassy has approached the National Court today or ever. There has been total independence, with no interference”.
The President of the National Court remembers it as follows: “In effect, the ambassador met with me. I received him in my office. The meeting lasted six or seven minutes. He told me that they were very concerned by and interested in this case. I told him that the extradition was being processed, that it was an issue of jurisdiction and that the National Court would proceed as admissible by Law with legal instruments”.
Is it normal for an ambassador to visit the National Court to inquire about an extradition request made by his country? “It is not usual”, replies [De] Juanes. Judicial sources, aware of the prior attempts of other diplomats of the Kazakh embassy to approach some of the judges who were to decide on this extradition case, say that they are “amazed” at what has taken place, define it as “unethical”, and assure that “in [sic] our judicial culture, it is an inadmissible incident”. They do not hesitate to describe it as an attempt to exert pressure.
Bakyt Dyussenbayev [sic], the ambassador of Kazakhstan in Madrid, also tried to obtain information at the Ministry of Justice. The diplomat met with Ángel Llorente, Director General of the [Department of] International Cooperation on Law and Religious Affairs. “I received several calls and had a meeting with him. They asked if we had information, whether the extradition has been resolved by the National Court. We gave them general information regarding the proceedings, not anything to do with the core of the case. There has been no pressure”.
Llorente emphasizes that in the political sphere such contacts are frequent, and adds that he has also received representatives of the Open Dialog Foundation which, together with other NGOs such as Amnesty International, criticize handing over the bodyguard and denounce that there are dozens of political prisoners in Nazarbayev's regime and that torture is practiced in his prisons.
Open Dialog has verified numerous cases of torture under the regime of the megalomaniac 73-year-old president Nazarbayev —Astana is full of his portraits— who has governed the country with an iron fist for 22 years. Last October, two months after the signing of the extradition treaty, President Mariano Rajoy and representatives of large Spanish companies visited Kazakhstan to open new markets. The country, with a population of 17 million and an area of two and a half million kilometers —five times the size of Spain— is one of the most courted [states], owing to its natural resources [such as] uranium, petroleum, natural gas and cotton.
In 2012, Nazarbayev's soldiers killed 16 people in Zhanaozen during an oil plant workers' strike. The testimony of Roza Tulyetaeva, 47, leader of the workers, described to the court that during the interrogations, she was hung by her hair [suffocated] with a garbage bag around her head, while an agent penetrated her anus with an iron bar. She said, “My family and my neighbors are here. I am ashamed to say what they did to me”.
Llorente says that the Kazakh authorities assure that Pavlov will have a fair trial and that they have offered guarantees for verifying that he will not be tortured. However, the special opinion of the seven judges who opposed Pavlov's extradition states that
“bilateral diplomatic guarantees are not legally binding, as there are no existing means to obligate the other party to comply with them, nor to investigate the potential violations of rights”. This opinion was issued by Ramón Sáez Valcárcel, Manuela Fernández de Prado, Teresa Palacios, Javier Martínez Lázaro, Antonio Díaz Delgado, José Ricardo de Prada and Clara Bayarri. A report of the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI [the Spanish National Intelligence Center]) requested by the Office of Asylum [and Refuge], signed by Beatriz Méndez de Vigo, Secretary General, states that Pavlov is potentially dangerous, but adds that "it should be pointed out that the consulted information and sources are not considered sufficiently trustworthy, which does not allow to carry out a fully verified evaluation with respect to the degree of this potential danger. With respect to the accusation of terrorism, there is no information to verify this".
Last Thursday, The Administrative Litigation Division of the National Court suspended the handing over and extradition of Pavlov when his lawyers filed an appeal with this body and with the European Court of Human Rights. His lawyers, María Costa and Ignacio Díaz de Aguilar, assure that the government tried to prevent the decision from being known so as to prevent them from filing their appeal in time, as Pavlov had not been informed of the decision of the Council of Ministers, despite the fact that the law obliges him to be informed. A spokesperson from the [Department of] Justice assures that last Monday, the National Court, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Police and Pavlov were informed of the agreement, but the latter denies having been informed.
07The list of Kazakh dissidents, their families and colleagues persecuted with the use of INTERPOL in the European Union in 2012-15
02Ingancio Sanchez Amor in defence of Ablyazov: Appeal to the French government
16Kazakh with political refugee status in Poland released from Spanish jail
13Deputy Prosecutor General of the Kazakh Republic recalls the agreement with Russia concerning the handover of convicts
28Court Dismisses Kazakhstan’s Complaint regarding the Release of Alexander Pavlov on Bail
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