Kazakhstan's Rakhat Aliyev found dead in Austrian prison24 february 2015, 18:05
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An ex-Ambassador of Kazakhstan in Austria who is also a former son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s President and a fugitive Kazakh tycoon Rakhat Aliyev has been found dead in the Austrian prison of Josefstadt, Tengrinews reports citing RIA Novosti. Aliyev was 52. According to preliminary information, it was a suicide.
Austrian Kurier reports that Aliyev was found hanging in his cell. The information about his death was confirmed by a Viennese judge.
Aliyev was moved from a three-person to a solitary confinement at his own request shortly before the incident. The day before his death, Klaus Ainedter, his lawyer’s son visited Aliyev to discuss his case.
According to Heute, the body of the ex-Ambassador was discovered at 7.20 a.m. on February 23 - on a hook for clothes. Other media reports say he was found on February 24.
Aliyev’s lawyer has questioned the version of suicide. "We believe that this case will be thoroughly investigated and the cause of his death will be determined," said Klaus Ainedter, who along with his father has represented Rakhat Aliyev for several years.
One of Tengrinews correspondents managed to reach the Prosecutor's Office in Vienna. The spokesman of the Office Nina Bussek said that the death of Rakhat Aliyev was being investigated and the details would be disclosed only after the investigation is completed.
The suicide version has not yet been confirmed by the Viennese prosecutors, she said.
Tengrinews contacted the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Austria, but the embassy's staff said they had no information about the death of Rakhat Aliyev and could neither confirm nor deny it.
“We do not have any information. Please refer to the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan," they said.
The Kazakh Foreign Ministry said that the information about the death was being checked. "We are now examining the accuracy of this information. As soon as we have new details, we will release them,” said the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry Nurzhan Aytmakhanov.
Austrian police arrested Rakhat Aliyev in Vienna on June 5 last year after he voluntarily handed himself in. As reported by the Prosecutor General's Office of Kazakhstan, his arrest was connected to the investigation into the abduction and murder of top managers of Nurbank, a Kazakh bank once under Aliyev’s leadership. The two bankers – Zholdas Timraliyev and Aybar Khasenov disappeared in January 2007. Their bodies were found only in May 2011.
The Austrian prosecutors officially presented their double-murder charges against Aliyev in December last year. In case of conviction, Aliyev was facing at least 10 years in prison.
He had repeatedly claimed that the whole case against him was politically motivated. In addition, he also said there was an international conspiracy involving both Kazakh and European politicians against him. The Austrian authorities checked this possibility but excluded it in their draft indictment after finding a clear financial motive in the murder of the two bankers.
Rakhat Aliyev was convicted for the double-murder of Khasenov and Timraliyev in Kazakhstan in 2008. He was also convicted for several other grave crimes in his homeland. The charges included treason and preparing a coup that all added to 40 years imprisonment. The court sentences in Kazakhstan were handed down in absentia however, as Aliyev was hiding abroad since spring 2007.
After Rakhat Aliyev was arrested in Austria, where he served as the ambassador of Kazakhstan for several years until 2007, Kazakhstan filed several extradition requests, but they were all denied. The Austrian authorities asked Kazakhstan not to interfere with their investigation, to which the Kazakh authorities replied that they stood ready to aid the Austrians in the investigation if needed.
By Dinara Urazova (Renat Tashkinbayev contributed to the story)