Italy mulls to expel Kazakh ambassador to Rome

Photo: Italy mulls to expel Kazakh ambassador to Rome / Kazakhstan

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 23 / Trend E. Kosolapova/

Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino mulls to expel Kazakh ambassador to Rome Andrian Yelemessov, after the family of Kazakh dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov was deported from Rome, Italian media reported.

"My first concern is to not weaken our presence in (the Kazakh capital of) Astana by reacting," Bonino said, in what was interpreted as a hint to Kazakh officials to withdraw its ambassador on its own. If Italy were to expel him, there is a strong likelihood that Kazakhstan would expel the Italian ambassador to Astana. Last week Bonino met with Kazakhstan's charge d'affaires to ask for an explanation as to why the foreign ministry was never contacted.

Alma Shalabayeva, wife of fugitive Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, and their six-year-old daughter were apprehended in a nighttime raid by Italian police late in May. They were rushed onto a private jet with Kazakh diplomats and flown back to Kazakhstan.

A great scandal broke out in Italy following this deportation which led to the resignation of Interior Minister Angelino Alfano's chief of staff at the interior ministry, Giuseppe Procaccini. Moreover Premier Enrico Letta's government would have been in peril if Alfano had failed to pass the confidence test. However the Italian Senate rejected a no-confidence motion in Deputy Premier and Interior Minister. The review of the case also found irregularities in the protocol followed by Kazakhstan's ambassador to Rome, Andrian Yelemessov, who pressured the interior ministry to hand over Ablyazov's kin.

UN human rights experts have condemned this deportation and called on Italian authorities to facilitate the return of Alma Shalabayeva, and her six-year-old daughter to Italy.

Ablyazov is wanted by Kazakhstan's authorities on fraud and embezzlement charges while heading Kazakh BTA Bank. After the criminal investigation was launched in early 2009 Ablyazov fled to the UK claiming asylum against political persecution. In May 2011 the British court refused from recognizing claims that the case was politically motivated and upheld the bank's claims. In February, 2012 the High Court sentenced Mukhtar Ablyazov to 22 months of imprisonment for contempt of court. However, the sentence has not been carried out so far, because his whereabouts has not been established. Moreover according to some Kazakh media and officials, Ablyazov had a direct relationship to the mass riots in the city of Zhanaozen on December 16, 2011 when at least 14 people were killed.

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