Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 9
By Elena Kosolapova - Trend: A French court Thursday approved the extradition of fugitive Kazakh oligarch and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov, France-Presse reported on Jan. 9.
Earlier Russia and Ukraine strove for his extradition for economic crimes committed in their territories.
The judge approved the extradition requests from both Russia and Ukraine but ruled that Russia's should take priority.
Ablyazov's lawyers are expected to appeal Thursday's decision and he will not be extradited pending its outcome.
He is also wanted by Kazakhstan's authorities on fraud and embezzlement charges while he was heading Kazakh BTA Bank. He has denied the charges.
Ablyazov fled to the UK claiming an asylum against political persecution after the initiation of criminal investigation in early 2009. In May 2011, the British court refused to recognize claims that the case was politically motivated and upheld the bank's claims. In February, 2012 the UK High Court sentenced Mukhtar Ablyazov to 22 months of imprisonment for contempt of court. However, the sentence has not been carried out so far.
Moreover, according to some Kazakh media outlets 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. Mukhtar Ablyazov allegedly funds radical opposition within Kazaksran and is also a political opponent of the country's President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The Kazakh tycoon was detained in France in summer 2013.
Earlier the non-governmental organization focused on human rights Amnesty International urged France to prevent extradition of Mukhtar Ablyazov to Kazakhstan or any country that might return him to Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan and France has no bilateral extradition treaty.
The organization believes there is a high risk that if extradited to Russia and Ukraine Ablyazov would be subjected to onward transfer to Kazakhstan where he would face an unfair trial and possible torture and other ill-treatment.
Edited by CN