El Pais: Extradition of an opponent of the Kazakhstani government stopped out of fear that he could be tortured
© mukhtarablyazov.org 19.02.2014

SOURCE: http://elpais.com

As a precautionary measure, the Contentious Chamber of the National High Court has decided to stop the deliverance and extradition to Kazakhstan of Alexander Pavlov that was requested by Kazakhstan. Pavlov is the security chief for Muktar Ablyazov, an oligarch and primary opposition to the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Last Friday, the Council of Ministers agreed to turn over Pavlov, 37, which had been authorized weeks prior by the Criminal Chamber of the Court. The ruling was made in record time, two hours after Pavlov’s attorneys informed the judges that Interpol had begun the initial actions for his immediate extradition.

This afternoon, the Chamber agreed that “no measure shall be adopted that would imply Mr. Pavlov’s departure from Spanish territory” until the Chamber could rule on the precautionary measures that should be taken. At noon today Pavlov’s lawyers had requested that the Chamber and the European Court of Human Rights stop deliverance of their client because they feared that he would be tortured by the authorities of Kazakhstan. Amnesty International publicly denounced the Spanish Government’s decision and denounced the system of torture and abuse to which political prisoners in Kazakhstan are subjected.

“The Government has tried to prevent its decision from being known so that he could be turned over today before we could find out about the decision and be able to react,” stated Ignacio Díaz de Aguilar, the attorney representing Pavlov. “We detected actions that made us think that the extradition was going to be imminent,” added attorney María Costa. “If the Chamber were to authorize the precautionary measures that we requested, it would make the Government’s decision void,” said Díaz de Aguilar.

In a special ruling, seven judges from the Second Division of the Criminal Chamber of the National High Court that authorized Pavlov’s extradition stated that this is “a case of political persecution under the cover of a petition for crimes against the state.” “The fate of the accused cannot be indifferent to the authorities competent in extradition matters. It would constitute an indirect violation of a person’s fundamental rights – life, integrity, liberty – to grant extradition when the possibility exists that these rights might be violated by the requesting State because adequate measures to protect against that risk have not been adopted,” the judges declared in a special ruling issued by Ramón Sáez Valcárcel, Manuela Fernández de Prado, Teresa Palacios, Javier Martínez Lázaro, Antonio Díaz Delgado, José Ricardo de Prada, and Clara Bayarri.

This decision goes against the ruling of February 15, when the Division agreed by a 10 to 7 vote to declare the extradition of Pavlov requested by the Republic of Kazakhstan admissible. Multiple NGOs report that Kazakhstan is a wealthy country with a population of 17 million people where human rights are not respected. It is a Republic governed under the iron fist of its president, Nazarbayev, 72, and has laws that grant him immunity until his death.

Pavlov was arrested in 2012 at a police checkpoint in Madrid’s Chamartin station when he got off a train coming from Paris and was escaping an international arrest warrant issued by authorities in Kazakhstan for the alleged crimes of terrorism and embezzlement. Ablyazov’s security chief (Pavlov) applied for political asylum from the Soto del Real prison (Madrid) and hired a law firm in order to avoid deliverance to a country where he insists he will be tortured. Last July, the National High Court agreed to grant his extradition, which was appealed by Pavlov’s defense team and upheld by the full Second Division.

The special ruling by the seven judges warns of the danger that Pavlov could be tortured when delivered to authorities in Kazakhstan and states that “bilateral diplomatic guarantees are not legally binding as there are no measures in place to require compliance by the other party nor to investigate possible rights violations.” The human rights organization Open Dialog Foundation has cited numerous cases of torture in Kazakhstani prisons.

The dissenting judges pointed out that a report from the National Intelligence Center (CNI) included in the case states that the request for Pavlov’s extradition “could encompass other purposes beyond the crimes of which he is accused.” And they emphasize that seven members of the European Parliament and several NGOs and organizations including Amnesty International and the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de España (Spanish Association for the Defense of Human Rights) have addressed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, warning that Pavlov’s extradition is part “of a broader persecution undertaken by the Government of Kazakhstan against its political opposition.”

Alexander Pavlov is part of the inner circle of Muktar Ablyazov, leader of the opposition to the current Government. Ablyazov was granted asylum in the United Kingdom where he sought refuge to escape the dictatorial regime. Last May 31, armed agents searching for Ablyazov entered a house in Rome where his wife had been living. Italy deported Ablyazov’s wife and six-year old daughter and a private plane from the Kazakhstani embassy took them to Kazakhstan. The event caused a political scandal in Italy.

The ruling that granted Pavlov’s extradition stated that the fact that Spain has signed a bilateral extradition treaty with Kazakhstan “implies the trust that [Kazakhstan] will respect human rights, particularly when the Kazakhstani authorities, within the petition itself, included a list of guarantees that conclusively demonstrate that Pavlov will be accorded all of his rights in a fair trial.” Pavlov’s extradition is requested based on his alleged embezzlement of USD$22.5 million at the Kazakhstani bank BTA Bank – where his boss Ablyazov was the president – and for planning an alleged terrorist attack that was never carried out.

The President of the Spanish Executive Branch, Mariano Rajoy, and a delegation of Spanish business people traveled to Kazakhstan in October to open markets to Spanish companies. Kazakhstan is one of the countries most courted by Europe because of its natural resources, uranium, petroleum, natural gas and cotton.

SOURCE: http://elpais.com/