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Viennese court acquits two men of murder in high-profile Aliyev's case; Kazakhstan contends Austrian judge biased

Vladimir Koshlyak and Alnur Musayev ©REUTERS Vladimir Koshlyak and Alnur Musayev ©REUTERS

A court in Vienna has acquitted the former head of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan Alnur Mussayev of kidnapping and murdering two men and handed the former security officer of the Kazakh President Vladimir Koshlyak to a two year suspended prison sentence. Kazakhstan Prosecutor General’s Office has commented on the decision of the Viennese court, Tengrinews reports.

During the investigation the Prosecutor's Office in Vienna repeatedly appealed to the General Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan with requests for legal assistance, it said.

"The requested legal assistance was provided by the Kazakhstani side in full: a large amount of documents was provided, a number of physical evidences were handed over, the opportunity to question witnesses in Kazakhstan was given," said the Prosecutor's Office.

It also noted that "the results of the investigation conducted by the prosecutor's office concluded in the city of Vienna was identical in key aspects to conclusions reached by Kazakhstani investigators."

"In this respect, the Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan supports the position of the Prosecutor's Office of the city of Vienna and considers charges pressed by it in this case as substantiated and backed by sufficient evidence base," the department said.

Alnur Mussayev and Vadim Koshlyak stood trial in connection to the abduction and murder of two bankers of Nurbank, a Kazakhstani bank, Zholdas Timraliyev and Aibar Khasenov in 2007 as accomplices to the main defendant Rakhat Aliyev, an ex-Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Austria and former son-in-law of Kazakhstan President.

The Austrian prosecutors found that shortly before the two bankers disappeared, Rakhat Aliyev was planning to sell Nurbank. An audit of the bank’s records discovered dozens of millions of overdue loans extended to borrowers affiliated with the bank's employees or former employees, which made Aliyev suspicious of bank's managers enriching at his expense.

One of the bad loans was a $30 million loan to Khasenov’s company. Aliyev also purportedly accused Timraliyev of receiving kickbacks for authorizing loans that were at the bank's disadvantage. Aliyev and the two accomplices allegedly tried making Timraliyev and Khasenov confess and return the stolen assets. The two bankers ended up being murdered.

Beginning on April 14 in Vienna, the trial into the double-murder was quickly dubbed one of the most complex cases in the history of Austrian justice, involving testimonies from more than 60 witnesses and was scheduled to last for nearly a month.

It was also sensationalized due to the death of the main defendant just a few days prior to the beginning of the trial. Rakhat Aliyev was found dead on February 24 in his solitary confinement in a Viennese prison of Josenstadt. According to official information, he had been moved there from a three-person cell several days before the apparent suicide, the version of death his lawyers still doubt.

It was then for the two alleged accomplices to stand trial. And the jury in Vienna acquitted Musayev and Koshlyak on charges of murdering Timraliyev and Khasenov. Koshlyak was acquitted on charges of kidnapping Khasenov, but convicted of kidnapping Timraliyev. In view of this, the jury’ verdict was to sentence Koshlyak to 2 years in prison, of which 16 months were a suspended sentence.

Back in Kazakhstan, however, Almaly District Court found Alnur Mussayev guilty of kidnapping Timraliyev and Khasenov, for which he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Vladimir Koshlyak was convicted of kidnapping Timraliyev and Khasenov, extortion and theft of property, for which he was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

"Musayev and Koshlyak are also accused by the law-enforcement agencies in the murder of Timraliyev and Khasenov, but pre-trial investigation of the criminal case has not been completed," Prosecutor General's Office of Kazakhstan said.

This criminal case was initiated in 2011 after the discovery of the bodies of the victims, but was suspended because the accused persons were outside of Kazakhstan. "Regardless of the decision taken by the Criminal Court of Vienna, the General Prosecutor of Kazakhstan continues to believe that Musayev and Koshlyak committed crimes against Timraliyev and Khasenov and should incur criminal penalties corresponding to the seriousness of the offenses," the Kazakh Prosecutor's Office contended.

The Prosecutor General's Office of Kazakhstan declared that measures to ensure inevitability of the punishment assigned by courts of the Republic of Kazakhstan would be taken, in full and in strict accordance with Kazakhstan's criminal procedure legislation and international law.

"In addition, we inform that the aforementioned decision of the Regional Court for Criminal Cases in Vienna was immediately appealed by the prosecutor’s office of Vienna and the lawyers of the victims. Taking into account the fact that the court's ruling has not entered into force, as well as the unprecedented bias shown during the proceedings by the presiding judge A. Böhm, and crude procedural violations committed by him, the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan hopes for a lawful, reasonable and fair judgment by higher courts of the Republic of Austria," the Office said.

Richard Soyer, the legal representative of the Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan in Austria, also had a critical opinion of the verdict and said that “the trial was marked by gross procedural errors.”

The legal representative of the widows of the two murdered bankers Gabriel Lansky said that the jury’s decision confirmed the “core of the indictment,” that is the abduction of Timraliyev and Khasenov, thereby making it clear that Aliyev and Koshlyak were criminals.

In contrast, Aliyev's widow Elnara Shoraz was reportedly happy about the decision and considered it a posthumous acquittal of Rakhat Aliyev, the lawyer Erich Gemeiner said

By Dinara Urazova

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