UN: Do Not Hand Over Pavlov
© mukhtarablyazov.org 17.04.2014

The UN have warned the Spanish government that the opposition activist might be tortured in Kazakhstan. Kazakh diplomats interrogated Mr Pavlov despite his ‘asylum seeker’ status.

On 5 February 2013 Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan – a rich post-Soviet republic – travelled to Madrid, Spain, to re-visit Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Mr Rajoy had visited Kazakhstan with a delegation of Spanish businessmen five months previously. Three days after this event Mr Alexander Pavlov (37) was seated opposite two Kazakh diplomats in Soto jail (Madrid). Apparently, they were interested in his family situation, and in himself. In jail, Pavlov had formally requested political asylum on the grounds of political persecution by Mr Nazarbayev’s dictatorial regime. However, his gaolers allowed his persecutors to pay him a visit and interrogate him. Ms María Costa, Mr Pavlov’s lawyer, deemed this “unbelievable and unacceptable”.

The UN General Assembly has recently published a report by Mr Juan E. Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. The report mentioned this “strange visit”. The lack of judicial investigation thereof was deemed inappropriate, and a request was made to Spanish government not to hand over Mr Pavlov to Kazakhstan, as there are “serious grounds to believe that he would face persecution, torture and abuse”, the report states. It is an argument similar to the one adopted by seven judges of Spanish Audiencia Nacional, i.e. a National High Court, who presented a dissenting opinion against Mr Pavlov’s extradition. However, the remaining ten judges of the Plenary of the Court’s Criminal Division backed the extradition. The Spanish Council of Ministers gave the green light to this rendering. However, Mr Pavlov’s lawyers managed to delay it by lodging an appeal against Ministry of the Interior’s decision denying him the right to political asylum. 

Mr Pavlov is the head of the personal security detail of Mr Mukhtar Ablyazov, an oligarch and the main opponent of Kazakh president Nazarbayev. In jail, it was Mr Alik S. Zhumagulov, counsellor of Kazakh embassy, and Mr Azamat S. Abdraimov, the First Secretary of Consular Affairs, who visited Mr Pavlov. “My client did not react; he withstood the questioning and gave only evasive answers. He was not aware that he was allowed to simply leave, as that would be unthinkable in his country. He also felt threatened, when the visitors asked questions about his family”, Mr Pavlov’s lawyer stated. 

The actions carried out by Kazakhstan’s ambassador in Spain, Mr Bakyt Diussenbayen, as well as those undertaken by his counsellors and diplomatic staff in order to extradite Mr Pavlov, were peculiar. He has been accused of fraud and of attempting to carry out a terrorist attack (which has never occurred). An unknown diplomat made phone calls to the offices of Spanish National High Court judges who were to decide upon the matter, offering to meet them and co-operate. “I have been called twice in the afternoon, from a telephone number nobody really knows. They knew, however, that I was in my office – although it happened at a time when the National High Court’s premises were virtually empty. It is all very strange, and intolerable”, one of the judges stated.

As these attempts failed, Kazakhstan’s ambassador in Spain managed to meet on separate occasions with Mr Ángel Juanes, President of Spanish National High Court, and its Chief Prosecutor, Mr Javier Zaragoza. Both of them affirmed they had not disclosed any information thereat. The Kazakh diplomat also met Mr Ángel Llorente, Director General of International Legal Cooperation Unit at the Spanish Ministry of Justice.

Apparently, the long arm of Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, courted by significant Spanish businesses, reached the heart of the Spanish National High Court. On 19 February, the head of Section Three of the Criminal Division, Mr Alfonso Guevara, attempted to push through the extradition of Mr Pavlov. He took advantage of the fact that the secretary of Section Two, the only other responsible officer in this case, was absent. An officer who attended to Mr Guevara refused to proceed as requested. Mr Guevara would state that the ambassador of Kazakhstan had told him there was a plane standing by, and that the secretary had been duly informed; it was there in order to proceed with the rendition process.

Had Mr Pavlov been taken to that plane, a decision made 2.5 hours later would have been circumvented. The decision was made upon the appeal of Mr Pavlov’s lawyers by the Administrative Division of the Court, and regarded the denial of Spanish Ministry of the Interior to grant him political asylum. The judges criticised this denial and ordered that “no decision that requiring Mr Pavlov to leave Spanish territory shall be made”. Spanish General Council of the Judiciary opened an investigation into Mr. Guevara’s actions. It was later closed, upon the declaration that his “alleged” actions are not subject to disciplinary measures.

The UN report affirms that “the use of torture and abuse in Kazakhstan is not limited to isolated cases” and reiterates that in 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ordered the discontinuation of two court proceedings, and the order was based on the aforementioned reason. Pavlov’s case has many question marks hanging over it, however the most important question remains unanswered: who exactly approached Judge Guevara?

Source: El Pais