La Repubblica: Shalabayeva, the last riddle: who forged the passport?
© 13.11.2013

Fabio Tonacci

There is a photo of a six-year-old girl – poorly touched-up by means of the Photoshop software in order to create a forged document – which proves how crucial the Italian “hand” was in the deportation of Alma Shalabayeva and little Alua Ablyazov, the Kazakh dissident’s, wife and daughter. And how quickly, between May 28 and 31, human rights were violated along with procedures.

How is it possible that an expert report, filed in the prosecutor’s office, recounts everything; forcefully reopening the case? One needs to go back to May 31 in order to connect the dots. That morning, all of a sudden, things start going the Kazakh diplomats’ way. Around 11.00, the justice of peace, Stefania Lavore, having evaluated the documents in her possession, authorises the detention of Alma in the Ponte Galeria Identification and Deportation Centre: the first step towards her subsequent deportation. <<She was tricked by the police>>, Marco Bresciano, the presiding judge of the First Instance Court (Tribunale) in Rome, sent by the Minister of Justice to inspect the case, will later state in his report.. <<On May 30, the central police station was in possession of the woman’s Kazakh passport which would allow her to depart unhindered. Yet it was not submitted in time for the judicial hearing>>.

Nevertheless, in order to send Ablyazov’s wife back to Astana and put her in the hands of the dictator Nazarbayev, one last card is missing: a document to prove her daughter’s identity. <<It is not a minor detail – explain the dissident’s family’s lawyers – without it, Alua could not be legally repatriated. And without her, Alma would have stayed in Italy>>. No police officer, even the most officious, would ever separate a mother and daughter when carrying out an expulsion procedure.

It is a problem for the ambassador, Andrian Yemelessov, who these days, knows his way around the Department of Public Security – the whole operation could fall through. In the archives of the Kazakh department, Alua does not figure; because she was born in London.

Something happens and in few hours, officers of the central police station in Rome find on their desk a document that has appeared out of nowhere: a certificate of return No 0007492, registered in the name of Alua Ablyazova, <<a citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan>>, valid only for one day, until June 1. Complete with a colour photo of the girl and a Kazakh stamp. Now they have got everything. Alua can be deported along with her mother, who at this point, just prior to a flight which has already been arranged from Ciampino, can do nothing.

But “the hand” of our people has left traces on the certificate. Already at first glance, it must raise doubts: it falsely certifies (in the part translated into English) that Alua was born in Italy on February 7, 2007. But the photo reveals even more. Because – as it appears in the report sent to graphics expert by Astolfo di Amato, the defence lawyer of one of Ablyazov’s daughters: Madina, – it was scanned directly from Alma Shalabayeva’s passport which was issued by the Central African Republic. On the final pages of the document, there was a photo of Alma’s daughter, Alua. This very document was found on the night of the raid on the villa in Casal Palocco, it was seized and retained by the police. Who gave it to the Kazakhs? And why?

The expert, Fabio Pisterzi, writes: <<The photos of Alua in the two documents come from the same shot. However, the one on the certificate of return has been edited: the colour of the skin under the chin appears to be abnormally uniform. One can obtain such an effect by means of the “cleaning” tool featured in Photoshop software. The edited segment is in precisely the same place as where the stamp of the Central African Republic had previously been>>. Thus, the photo was manipulated in a hasty manner, the job must not have taken more than a couple of hours.

<<This fact is so significant for the investigation that we have presented it to the prosecutor’s office>>, comments D’Amato, who does not dare to speculate which individuals may be responsible for it, but makes an observation less inconsequential than it seems to be: in those days, only the central police station had access to Alma’s passport issued by the Central African Republic, containing the photo of Alua, which was later used in the other document>>. How did it end up in the hands of the Kazakh diplomats? Who consented to such a glaring violation of the rights of a six-year-old girl?

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