Rakhat Aliyev cannot be investigated over torture claims

Magistrate rules that police cannot investigate torture claims against former Kazakh diplomat Rakhat Aliyev as he was not a permanent resident.

Rakhat Aliyev cannot be investigated by the Maltese police for the alleged torture and frame up of two Kazakh bodyguards in the late 1990s, after a magistrate ruled that the police were right in not pursuing a criminal complaint as the Kazakh millionaire did not qualify as a permanent resident in Malta.

The ruling comes after Pyotr Afanasenko and Satzhan Ibraev, the former bodyguards of Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, claimed that Aliyev – who was now using his wife’s surname of Shoraz – was responsible for their illegal detention and torture under the administration of his father-in-law, dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, in the late 1990s.

After Aliyev self-exiled in Malta, the former bodyguards had filed a criminal complaint, calling on then-police commissioner John Rizzo and assistant commissioner Andrew Seychell to investigate and prosecute Aliyev over the torture claims.

Their complaint was however turned down in May 2013 after the police had insisted that they do not have the jurisdiction over claims which took place in Kazakhstan in the late 1990s.

Moreover, a Maltese court threw out the suit as there had been no prima facie proof that Aliyev had in fact committed crimes against humanity

In August 2013, the two former bodyguards filed a fresh complaint, again asking the Maltese police to investigate their claims of torture. Once again, however, the police commissioner insisted that Malta did not have jurisdiction.

In his ruling, Magistrate Aaron Bugeja underlined that prior to investigating a criminal complaint, it must first be established whether Aliyev was in fact a “permanent resident” at the time the criminal complaint was filed.

Deputy Attorney General Donatella Frendo Dimech – representing the police commissioner – argued that at the time, Aliyev was not a permanent resident in Malta but was merely exercising his right to freedom of movement.

Moreover, the court heard that between 2010 and 2013 Aliyev was residing in Malta, and was granted a residency permit in 2010. However, a year later, the Kazakh diplomat renounced his permanent residency permit when he was granted the right to freedom of movement due to his marriage to Elnara Shorazova, an Austrian national.

In their pleas, the plaintiffs said that nevertheless, Aliyev had several ties with Malta as he had purchased properties and investments, and also argued that the Maltese authorities had a moral and legal duty to investigate the claims.

Upholding the pleas made by Deputy Attorney General Donatella Frendo Dimech, Magistrate Aaron Bugeja argued that at the time when the criminal complaint was filed, Aliyev was not a permanent resident in Malta as per the Immigration Act.

Consequently, the magistrate ruled, Aliyev could not be investigated over the torture allegations, and that the police commissioner’s refusal was justified. 

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