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Kazakh oligarch Ablyazov remains in French jail 'for own safety'

Mukhtar Ablyazov
Mukhtar Ablyazov Reuters/Vladimir Tretyakov

A French court has ruled that Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov must stay in detention until his extradition hearing in September on the grounds that he might be in danger outside jail.

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Ablyazov who was arrested at his home near Cannes of France at the end of July,

The court in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence ruled that Ablyazov, an exiled businessman and critic of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s regime, must stay in jail for his own safety.

Ablyazov is wanted by the governments of Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine, who accuse him of embezzling over 4.5 billion euros from the bank he used to run in Kazakhstan.

He was arrested on 31 July on a warrant issued by Ukraine, which has up to 40 days to submit an official extradition request.

France and Kazakhstan do not have an extradition treaty.

Ablyazov has been in detention since his arrest.

At a hearing yesterday the court said it was not certain he would be safe out on bail.

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“It’s an argument that is rarely used in these contexts,” his lawyer Bruno Rebstock told RFI. “So when the judge says, as a first argument, that it was sensitive to the question of Mr Ablyazov’s security it’s clear that his safety must be protected – protected against those who are threatening it. And it’s clear that the threat comes from the power of Mr Nazarbayev.”

Ablyazov, who fell out of favour with Nazarabyev in 2002 after he founded an opposition party, denies he defrauded the bank and says the charges are politically motivated.

He will remain in French custody until an extradition hearing which is likely to be schedule in September.

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