Rome

Italy 'to respond' after deporting Kazakh dissident's family

Inquiry ongoing into Mukhtar Ablyazov's wife and six-year-old

Italy 'to respond' after deporting Kazakh dissident's family

Rome, July 9 - The Italian government will soon answer questions about the deportation of the wife and daughter of prominent Kazakh dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov, an Italian Senator said Tuesday. "I have received assurances from Interior Minister Angelino Alfano that the government will officially address (the issue) as soon as possible in order to provide the information requested," said Luigi Manconi, a Senator with the center-left Democratic Party (PD), at a Senate press conference. Premier Enrico Letta on Friday ordered an internal inquiry into the case of Alma Shalabayeva and her six-year-old daughter, who last month were taken to Rome's Ciampino airport and put on a private jet with Kazakh diplomats following a raid by Italian police on a Rome apartment. Letta, Foreign Minister Emma Bonino and the Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri have denied knowing about the operation until after the fact. The move to review the handling of the case came amid calls from the left-wing opposition SEL party "to take all measures possible to guarantee the safety of Shalabayeva and her daughter" now in Kazakhstan, which Human Rights Watch has criticised for its "deteriorating" human rights record. According to family and associates in Italy, police were in search of Ablyazov, a banker linked to a multi-billion-euro embezzlement case at his BTA Bank. Ablyazov, who has been a fugitive in Kazakhstan since 2009 and in and out of hiding, was not found in the raid, but agents apprehended his wife and daughter instead on charges of residing in the country illegally, which their lawyers denied again Tuesday. "The deportation order is entirely illegitimate, and in essence an abuse of power," said attorney Riccardo Olivo at a press conference at the Senate. In the complex international case, Manconi said that Italian agents may not have acted alone in the raid. "There's a document that says an Italian security company was enlisted, I believe by an Israeli security company, to surveil the home before the police stormed it," said the Senator. "I don't have any more details". Ablyazov, an outspoken critic of autocratic Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, helped found the now-defunct Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK), an opposition political movement that campaigned for breaking up the concentration of power in the executive, an independent judiciary, and a strong legislature. Italy's SEL party has demanded explanations specifically from Alfano, who is also the deputy premier and the secretary of the center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party of three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi. Critics have pointed out that during his stints as premier Berlusconi helped foster lucrative commercial ties between Italy and oil-rich Kazakhstan. (photo: Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Angelino Alfano)

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