Kazakhstan is closer to the extradition of its political opponents from the EU
© mukhtarablyazov.org 13.11.2013

On 7 November, the Appellate Court in Aix-en-Provence dedicated to the consider the Russian request to extradite Ablyazov along with the one presented by Ukraine. On 8 November, the Spanish court Audiencia Nacional decided that Alexandr Pavlov, ex head of security of Mukhtar Ablyazov can be extradited to Kazakhstan.

France: The case of Mukhtar Ablyazov 

The purpose of the hearing of the Appellate Court in Aix-en-Provence, which took place on 7 November (members of the Foundation were present there to observe the hearing)  was to linked to the extradition request filed by Russia. In connection with the guarantees, made by the Russian party, the request will now be considered in parallel with the Ukrainian request. The previous request (Russia filed the second request) has not been transferred through the French Ministry of Justice for consideration by the court. The purpose of the hearing was to determine the date of the first main hearing during which the substantial issues of the case should be considered. It will probably take place on 12 December (with the first and main hearing regarding the request of the Ukrainian bodies scheduled for 5 December).

The case was considered by a 3-person judiciary (Presiding Judge, Judge-Rapporteur-referent, and the tertiary judge). When opening the meeting, Judge-Rapporteur defined the key issues requiring examination at different stages of the proceedings. He stressed that the case raises a number of difficulties which require additional information, and therefore one should not expect a rapid conclusion.

The key issues identified included: 1) the submitted request that extradition be halted 2) the need to demonstrate the extent to which the deeds incriminated to Ablyazov were committed in Russia 3) to what extent, and on what basis does Russia wish to prosecute him for crimes that were allegedly committed outside its borders (as is apparent from the documents) 4) the existence of labour camps and the possibility of forcing prisoners to perform public service work in the Russian penitentiary system (apparently, France is carrying out extensive negotiations with Russia on this issue in the context of cooperation with the Russian judicial system, as it is a practice which France most definitely does not accept).

The prosecutor pointed out that France must not violate human rights and comply with the demands of Ukraine and Russia if there is a risk that such compliance may entail the infringement of rights.

The counsel Bruno Rebstock, underlined in his statement that: - the problem, which still remains is the application of detention and difficulties in contacting the family (especially the refusal of visitation rights to his youngest son) - general standards regarding  the observance of human rights in Russia leaves much to be desired - there are no real (enforceable) guarantees ensuring proper treatment of Ablyazov in Russia - the Minsk Convention, which is binding to, among others, Russia and Kazakhstan, allows the execution of extradition from Russia to Kazakhstan - well-documented and frequently encountered are situations where Russian authorities have declared one thing and then done another

Ablyazov himself clearly declared that he does not give his consent for the extradition and that he has nothing to add as his position was presented by the lawyer. 

In conclusion, the judge pointed out that, at this stage, the most important issue is to obtain answers regarding the  potential fate of Ablyazov, following his possible extradition to Russia. He noted that Russia offers guarantees under which, without French consent, the onward extradition of Ablyazov to a third country shall not be undertaken and denied the existence of forced labour camps. He also drew attention to the fact that - like France - Russia has no extradition treaty with Kazakhstan. 

The following important issues will include the presentation of all reports concerning the case and the issues at stake, the participation of the Russian prosecutor in the cross-examination in a French court, and obtainment of additional information from Russia (in the scope mentioned above plus raised concerns regarding human rights) necessary to issue a judgement. 

If the Russian party states that the participation of the public prosecutor in the cross-examination and/or provision of additional information requires more time, the date of the next hearing may be postponed.

Spain: The case of Alexandr Pavlov

On 8 November, the Spanish court Audiencia Nacional confirmed in the last instance the extradition of Alexandr Pavlov to Kazakhstan. The judges voted 10:7, the votes of the three judges that abstained from expressing their view on the case before were decisive. Now the decision of the court needs to be confirmed by the government of Spain, which also has a right to take a political decision not to carry out the extradition. The government should deliberate on this in a few weeks time. Currently, the lawyer of Alexandr Pavlov plans on filing an appeal against this decision to the European Court of Human Rights. An appeal against the negative decision in Pavlov's asylum request procedure from June 2013 is also to be expected.

According to Amnesty International and Open Dialog Foundation, Pavlov can only expect torture and a trumped-up trial in Kazakhstan.

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