Alleged torture victims describe Aliyev as enemy of freedom of expression

Former bodyguards say multimillionaire Kazakh exile violated them personally to extract false confession.

Satzhan Ibraev (centre) and Pyotr Afanasenko (Photo: Chris Mangion/Mediatoday)
Satzhan Ibraev (centre) and Pyotr Afanasenko (Photo: Chris Mangion/Mediatoday)

The alleged victims of multimillionaire Kazakh exile Rakhat Aliyev, who lives in Malta, told the press today they were personally violated by Aliyev in a bid to extract from them a false confession.

Kazakh nationals Pyotr Afanasenko and Satzhan Ibraev were accompanied by journalist Rozlana Taukina, the Nobel prize-nominated president of Journalists In Danger, to bring to public attention their claims of being tortured on orders of Aliyev.

"We know his true face and we know him as an enemy of freedom of expression... He terrorised people to stop them from speaking openly," Ibraev said.

The two bodyguards claim they were tortured under interrogation and in prison in 2000 on orders of Aliyev during the latter's tenure as deputy head of the Kazakh secret service, in a bid to extract a confession that their boss, then prime minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, was planning a coup against the president of Kazakhan, Aliyev's father-in-law.

Ibraev said he was personally beaten by Aliyev, while handcuffed, and force-fed psychotropic drugs. "We are here to speak for all those victims who do not have a voice."

The two bodyguards said they expected justice in Malta. "We want the Maltese police force to open an investigation against Aliyev, who is enjoying residence in Malta."

Taukina said that under his father-in-law's blessing, Aliyev controlled the mass media as well as part of the security forces.

Aliyev has since then fallen out with dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, who forcibly divorced him from his daughter after Aliyev was in 2008 found guilty in absentia of the murder of two Nurbank bankers and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. Aliyev denies the charges.

In May 2013, Magistrate Antonio Mizzi threw out the request of Maltese and German lawyers to force the Commissioner of Police to investigate Aliyev, over allegations of torture and crimes against humanity when he was deputy chief of Kazakhstan's secret service in 2000. The lawyers have repeatedly called on the police to investigate Aliyev, but the police has so far refused to proceed, which is why a 'police challenge' was filed in the Maltese courts.

Deputy Attorney General Donatella Frendo Dimech had said that although the allegations crimes against humanity were heinous, Malta had no jurisdiction on the crime. "Otherwise the government could be sued for breaching human rights."

The two victims are being hosted by human rights foundation Aditus.

"As human rights organisations, aditus foundation and Journalists in Danger support this request to the Malta Police, and will take the opportunity of this public hearing to provide a forum for Afanasenko and Ibraev to tell the story of their struggle for justice," Aditus said in a statement.