The Malta Independent 18 October 2021, Monday

Accusations fly as alleged Kazakh torture victims demand Malta takes action

Malta Independent Sunday, 3 November 2013, 09:12 Last update: about 8 years ago

Accusations are flying after two former Kazakh bodyguards and alleged torture victims – Pytor Afanassenko and Satzhan Ibraev – held a public meeting this week to demand that Malta takes action against Malta resident Rakhat Aliyev.

The two former bodyguards allege they were framed and tortured by Mr Aliyev, a wealthy Kazakh exile who was granted Maltese residency in 2010.

Mr Aliyev has denied the allegations and said the Kazakh secret service is trying to influence the Maltese courts, alleging, in turn, that the bodyguards are the actors in a systematic smear campaign against him that they are being forced to wage under threat of further persecution in Kazakhstan.

Mr Aliyev is the former son-in-law of the Kazakh President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been in power for 20 years, in violation of Kazakhstan’s Constitution.

In 1997, the two bodyguards of Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin – Pytor Afanassenko and Satzhan Ibraev – were accused of organising a military coup. The pair claims that they were framed by Mr Aliyev, who personally tortured them into giving a false confession.

The alleged torture took the form of beatings and the forced-feeding of psychotropic drugs.

They say Mr Aliyev did this in order to boost his own image in Kazakhstan, and after he foiled the alleged coup he was propelled to the rank of general.

The two bodyguards say that a fresh investigation into the matter last year proved that no coup was being organised, and that they were not political figures capable of gathering support for such a coup.

The bodyguards say that Mr Aliyev was given various positions in the Kazakh government he was not qualified to hold. Throughout his reign in Kazakhstan, Mr Aliyev held various positions as head of the Financial Police, Head of Customs and Head of the Secret Service.

Mr Aliyev, in conjunction with his wife who was in charge of all state-affiliated media, resorted to various PR stunts in order to portray himself as someone who was fighting for democracy and human rights, they claim.

Rozlana Taukina, an independent Kazakh reporter from the NGO ‘Journalists in Danger’, at the hearing in Valletta said that one of Mr Aliyev’s more audacious PR stunts saw him supposedly going to the Congo and commandeering a plane that had been taken from the Kazakhstan Cosmodrome. Further investigations by the media revealed that the plane had never even left Kazakhstan, she said.

A number of attempts have been made by Mr Afanassenko and Mr Ibraev to have the Maltese police investigate their torture claims, but so far they have fallen on deaf ears.

In fact, a year ago, in November 2012, the Attorney General’s Office said that Malta had no jurisdiction to investigate allegations against Mr Aliyev because he is not a permanent resident, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Mr Aliyev had obtained Maltese residency in 2010, an issue that had been brought up ahead of Commissioner-designate Tonio Borg’s hearing due to alleged irregularities in the process.

In court at the time, Deputy Attorney General Donatella Frendo Dimech had insisted that the Maltese authorities could not carry out these investigations according to law.

Dr Frendo Dimech insisted that the Maltese authorities could and would not harbour criminals, but any investigations had to take place according to law. She also stressed that this case was not to be considered a crime against humanity since it was not an attack on civilians. If this were the case, a warrant from the International Criminal Court would be issued.

But a new criminal complaint to Police Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit was filed in May this year.

Neil Falzon, director of the aditus foundation, said this week that the Police Commissioner is obliged to investigate and prosecute, as Mr Aliyev is a Maltese resident and the alleged victims have a right to seek redress through the Maltese courts.


Kazakh secret service agents in Malta to possibly kill me and my family –Aliyev

In a statement, reacting to the public hearing, Mr Aliyev denied all allegations of torture and insisted the bodyguards, like himself and his family, were victims of the Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev.

“Satzhan Ibraev and Pytor Afanassenko are being forced to run a systematic smear campaign against me to avert their own persecution. They will only continue to live for as long as they attack me, and if they choose to follow their conscience by stopping these baseless allegations against me, then the regime will kill them as well. They know this, I know this and everyone else who knows dictator Nazarbayev knows this too,” Mr Aliyev said.

Mr Aliyev also reiterated that his life and that of his family were and still are in danger and that Kazakh secret service agents are in Malta to monitor his movements and to possibly kill him and his family.

“The Kazakh secret service has long been trying to influence the Maltese Courts, the Maltese Attorney General and the Maltese Police Force and they are now strengthening their dubious influence in Malta through public events like that held today. They will use voluntary NGOs and civil society as a platform to disseminate deceitful messages and blatant lies. NGOs should think twice before associating themselves with the despicable Kazakh regime.”

He also reiterated that a confidential court file has been leaked to the Kazakh Secret Service last July and renewed his appeal to the Police Commissioner to investigate this serious breach against Malta’s own national security and the possibility that the Kazakh Secret Service has infiltrated Malta’s highest security and justice systems.

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