Cases in France Arrest
On 31 July 2013, M. Ablyazov was detained in the city of Mouns-Sartoux, approximately 8 kilometres to the north of Cannes. French security forces arrested Ablyazov on the basis of an Interpol notification. Simultaneously, Ukrainian law enforcement bodies filed a request for his extradition.
During his detention, Mukhtar Ablyzov presented a passport issued by the Central African Republic. The authorities of the Republic confirmed the authenticity of the document. Ablyazov was arrested by augmented police forces, equipped with a helicopter. French authorities were influenced by the rumours spread by the Kazakhstani government that Ablyazov reportedly heads his own, large private ’army’.
Within 24 hours, Ablyazov was transported from Nice to Aix-en-Provence, where the first hearing was held on 1 August. The French Appellate Court in Aix-en Provence rejected the motion to release Ablyazov on bail, claiming that Ablyazov should not leave the detention facility for his own safety.
Ablyazov’s counsel- Bruno Rebstock stated that the court’s decision does not prejudge the eventual decision regarding his extradition. Whilst commenting on the decision of the Appellate Court in Aix-en-Provence, he also made the following statement:
“I regret that the court followed the recommendation of the public prosecutor that in principle no decision on Mr. Ablyazov’s release from custody should be made until Ukraine formally explains in detail, why it is that his extradition is sought. The presiding
Prosecutor’s position is in line with arguments made by Kazakhstan:
- Ablyazov’s diplomatic passport is allegedly false
- Ablyazov has allegedly been sentenced in numerous countries
- Ablyazov has allegedly been accused by Ukraine of large-scale criminal activity
judge also emphasised the court’s serious concerns for Mr. Ablyazov’s safety. Paradoxically, his safety was one of the main reasons that the judges decided that his protection was better assured if he remained in detention. (…) Mr. Ablyazov’s legal team is more confident than ever that all evidence points to the political nature of Ukraine’s request. French judges will not be able to ignore Mr. Ablyazov’s status as a refugee who has been granted political asylum by the United Kingdom. Nor will French judges be able to ignore the actions carried out by Kazakh authorities against Mr. Ablyazov’s wife and six-year-old daughter, who were seized in Italy and are now being held hostage in Kazakhstan after being escorted there by Kazakh diplomats on a private jet on May 31. And ultimately, French judges will not be able to ignore the real risk that if extradited to Ukraine, Mr. Ablyazov will subsequently be handed over to Kazakhstan."
On 26 September, 2013, the court of Aix-en-Provance held the second hearing regarding Ablyazov’s release from extradition custody. Upon hearing the statements, the court adjourned the hearing until 3 October, when it decided to sustain the detention. The hearing regarding Ablyazov’s extradition is appointed for 5 December, 2013.
The position of the Prosecutor’s Office is convergent with arguments raised by Kazakhstan which state that:
- The diplomatic passport presented by Ablyazov was forged (despite the fact that a number of documents have been provided to prove its authenticity)
- Ablazyov was sentenced in many countries and he has been hiding from the justice (in fact, the sentence of the British Court hangs over him; he was found guilty of contemning the jury, which was a consequence of the action brought against him in Great Britain by BTA Bank, forcedly nationalised and controlled by the Kazakh government).
- He is accused by Ukraine of crimes on a large scale (despite the argumentation delivered by the defence, that it is possible for Ukraine to bring any accusations against him, as Ukraine does not have sovereign law enforcement bodies or independent courts).
- Thus far, Prosecutor Legras denied his youngest son (Aldiyar Ablyazov (12 y/o) the possibility of visiting his father by claiming that: “it would be difficult for him to bear it emotionally”. During the entirety of the oppositionist’s stay in detention, consent for a visit was granted only once to his daughter, Madina.
Apart from Ukraine, similar requests to extradite Ablyazov have been filed by Russia and Kazakhstan. French prosecutor- Solange Legras stated that France hasn’t concluded a bilateral agreement on extradition with Kazakhstan, and thus the actions were taken upon the request of Ukraine.
As part of extradition procedure, the requesting country is obliged to transfer specific legal documentation to French authorities within the period of 40 days. Upon receipt of the documents, the French prosecutor has to submit a response within 5 days.
Amnesty International: If he is extradited to Ukraine, there is a considerable risk that Ablyazov will be surrendered to Kazakhstan.
With regard to Ablyazov’s arrest, Amnesty International stated that French authorities should ensure him due process of law and guarantee that he will not be rendered to any country which is likely to transfer him to Kazakhstan, where he would be at risk of torture and unjust trial. Amnesty International believes that Ablyazov would face the risk of being transferred to Kazakhstan, should he be extradited to Ukraine. John Dalhusen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme Director stated as follows:
“Authorities of Kazakhstan want to get Ablyazov by all means (…). French authorities have to carefully contemplate every possible perspective in order to acquire absolute certainty that he will not be sent to a country which would immediately board him on the plane flying to Kazakhstan”.
In the report (Returns to Torture: Extradition, Forcible Returns and Removals to Central Asia) of July 2013, Amnesty International (points to the routine cooperation between Russia and Ukraine with the republics of Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, in respect of transferring persons persecuted by the regime, frequently carried out in violation of human rights.
In response to Ablyazov’s detention in France, his children also made an announcement:
Today at 3p.m. in France, our father, politician Mukhtar Ablyazov has been arrested.
As reported to us by the police, the actions were taken at the request of the authorities of Ukraine. Our father resides in France legally. The Ukrainian request for extradition was filed at the behest of the Kazakh regime. Our father is the chief political opponent of the dictator of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has haunted our family all over the world. Our father is in grave danger. In the past he was tortured in Kazakhstan, and survived several assassination attempts. We are afraid that France will render our father to the mercy of Nazarbayev.
Recently, our mum and little sister Alua were arrested and illegally deported from Italy to Kazakhstan. Now we request that the French authorities don’t render our father. Kazakhstan’s pursuit of him is purely political. We fear for his life.
Madina and Madiyar Ablyazova