France - Kazakhstan - Ukraine

French court rejects second parole bid by Kazakh oligarch Ablyazov

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev Ricardo Stuckert/ wikimedia.org

A French court has rejected a second appeal for release on parole by Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, who was arrested in a spectacular raid on his riviera villa in July. Ablyazov faces an extradition request from Ukraine but claims Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev is behind a campaign of politically motivated harassment.

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The court in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence rejected the appeal on the grounds that Ablyazov had provided insufficient guarantees that he would appear at his extradition hearing on 5 December, according to his lawyer, Bruno Rebstock.

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It rejected his previous bid to be freed on parole in August, citing concern about his "personal safety".

Rebstock claimed that Ukraine's official news agency announced the decision on Wednesday evening and the news had already been widely reported in Kazakhstan before the official announcement.

Ablyazov's daughter, Madina, who was present along with his sisters, facetiously thanked the Kazakh media for "preparing me in advance for this decision".

The former Kazakh energy minister and bank boss was arrested in a police raid in July. 

Kazakhstan's BTA bank, which Ablyazov used to head, accuses him of embezzling more than four billion euros but his family claims that the charges are part of a vendetta by Nazarbayev because Ablyazov broke with the president and became leader of an opposition party.

BTA's current director general, Pavel Prosyankin, welcomed the Aix court's decision, claming that it would prevent his predecessor laundering the money he is alleged to have stolen.

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