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Italian ex-top manager released on parole from Kazakhstan prison 05 августа 2014, 12:12

Italian Flavio Sidagni, convicted in Kazakhstan for drug distribution, has been released on parole.
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Flavio Sidagni before and after his prison term. Photos courtesy of La Republica and Il Post Flavio Sidagni before and after his prison term. Photos courtesy of La Republica and Il Post

Italian Flavio Sidagni, 59 convicted in Kazakhstan for distributing soft drugs, has been released on parole, Tengrinews reports citing Ak Zhayik. He was granted the early parole by the court on August 1 after serving two-thirds of his term. 

The Italian citizen was sentenced to six years in prison in Atyrau Oblast after being caught in the act in a hotel room in April 2010: 112,73 grams of hashish and 57,53 grams of cannabis were found on him.

The former financial top manager of Agip, a subsidiary of Italian energy giant Eni developing Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan, Flavio Sidagni had a passion for drugs and women. The details of his charges say that "Flavio had a habit of arranging sex parties with prostitutes and drugs in his hotel room of Atyrau city and videotaping the parties. In the “process” he prepared drugs for smoking and used them with the girls.” These “girls” were the ones, who reported the foreigner to the police.

The Italian was sentenced under the Article 259 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan “Illegal manufacture, processing, purchase, storage, transportation, transfer or sale of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances”.

After the six year sentense was handed out, Sidagni kept asking: "Why did they give me such a long prison term? All I did was smoke the drugs, I wasn't selling them." He admitted the he brought the soft drugs from Amsterdam, but for personal use only. "I was wrong, but I am not a drug trafficker," he insisted. He did not confirm that the parties were of sexual nature. In fact, he said that his wife and 6 y.o. son were there with him along with several of their friends when the police unexpectedly raided his hotel room and took him away without offering any clear explanations. He said that the judge interpreted the video of him smoking cannabis and passing the pot in a circle as distribution or sales of drugs.

The Italian was sentence to six years in high security prison in Semey, a prison much more remote and with a much stricter regime then the one he was in before and during the trial. Speaking about the pretrial detention in the Atyrau jail he said that he was the only foreigner there and had to share a small cell with 7 other inmates who viewed him as a goose that laid the golden eggs and squeezed money out of him for everything. He feared that conditions in the remote high security prison would be unbearable and managed to get several ranking Italian officials, including Silvio Berlusconi and Georgio Napolitano, to speak up for him. This enabled him to continue serving his term in a general security prison in Atyrau city in western Kazakhstan. He was even transferred to a section of prison with milder regime and less threatening inmates. He was allowed phone calls and meetings with his wife, but rare ones.

The recent court decision freed Sidagni from serving the remaining part - 1 year and 8 months - of his prison term. After the ruling enters into force on August 15, according to the lawyer, Sidagni will be able to leave Kazakhstan. There is no information on where he plans to go.

He is married to a woman from Kazakhstan and they have a son who is now around 10 years old. Sidagni used to work for Eni for 30 years before his imprisonment, 10 of them in Kazakhstan. 

Thereby, Flavio Sidagni has not become the first convict to be extradited from Kazakhstan to Italy. Kazakhstan was working on an extradition agreement with Italy. But Sidagni got his early parole before the work was complete.

On November 11, 2013,  Kazakhstan's President Nazarbayev signed a decree authorising the Prosecutor General to sign an extradition treaty with Italy on Kazakhstan's behalf. According to the draft agreement, "the crimes punishable by the legislations of both countries with a prison term of at least one year are considered as crimes invoking extradition."

Jogan Merkel, First Deputy General Prosecutor of Kazakhstan, spoke about the idea of the treaty at a meeting of the Majilis Committee for Legislation and Legal Reform. He specifically mentioned that there were no Kazakhstanis serving sentences in Italy but there was one Italian serving a sentence in Kazakhstan – Flavio Sidagni.

"Ratification of the agreement between Kazakhstan and Italy is important because Kazakhstan wants to strengthen the legal security of its people who go abroad, including tourists," he explained.

Italy will also be able to provide legal security for its citizens on the territory of Kazakhstan. 

By Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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