Rome

Meeting held by Italian govt members over Kazakh deportation

Inquiry ongoing into case of dissident's family expulsion

Meeting held by Italian govt members over Kazakh deportation

Rome, July 12 - A meeting was held among top Italian government members in Rome on Friday to discuss the deportation of the wife and daughter of prominent Kazakh dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov from Italy in June. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, Premier Enrico Letta, Foreign Minister Emma Bonino and Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri held talks to discuss 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, Bonino and 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 Angelino Alfano and Premier Enrico Letta)

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