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Kazakhstan's Aliyev received death threats in Austrian jail: media


Hearings on the case of two prisoners accused of extortion against the now dead Rakhat Aliyev, an runaway tycoon from Kazakhstan, were scheduled to take place today in Vienna Land Court, RIA Novosti reports.

Rakhat Aliyev was found hanging in his solitary confinement, where he moved at his own request from the three-person cell a few weeks ago. According to media reports, he moved because of death threats against him.

"The process was scheduled for today, but unfortunately, Aliyev was unable to attend because he was already dead at that point,”
press secretary of Vienna Land Court Christina Zaltsborn said. She informed that the two prisoners allegedly threatened Aliyev to get him to make a money transfer. The two, however, said they did not know who Aliyev was or what he was accused of. Their lawyer declared that they demanded a compensation for the help and money they offered him in the beginning of his detention, she said.

Corrections Department Director Peter Prechtl said that Aliyev's body was found today at 7:20 a.m in Vienna's Josefstadt prison in his bathroom. Aliyev’s solitary confinement was located in the prison’s hospital unit. Prechtl said he could not disclose the medical conditions of Aliyev for reasons of confidentiality. He also said that the ex-ambassador was assigned a “green” status, which meant he was not at risk of suicide.

Aliyev used to be married to the eldest daughter of Kazakhstan’s President Dariga Nazarbayeva. They divorced in 2007, the same year Aliyev fled Kazakhstan. In 2008 the country's court sentenced him in absentia to 40 years imprisonment.

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.

By Dinara Urazova

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