Kazakhstan court sentences fugitive tycoon and opposition figure Ablyazov to 20 years

Mukhtar Ablyazov

ALMATY (TCA) — A court in Kazakhstan has sentenced fugitive tycoon and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov to 20 years in prison after an in-absentia trial Ablyazov called “a farce”, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

The court in Almaty convicted Ablyazov on June 7 of organizing and leading a criminal group, abuse of office, embezzlement, and financial mismanagement. It issued the sentence the same day.

One of Ablyazov’s three lesser-known co-defendants, who were present at the trial, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The other two were given suspended sentences.

Ablyazov, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Europe since 2009, dismissed the result of what he said was a “false” trial and a farce.

Speaking to RFE/RL hours after his verdict and sentence were pronounced, he said that he would advise his lawyer “not to waste time challenging the ruling”.

“Nobody will trust that court’s ruling. The ruling has no power in the West,” Ablyazov said. “I do not care what sort of decision they are making there about me. Because this trial is false.”

Investigators say Ablyazov and his subordinates embezzled some $5 billion while running BTA Bank in Kazakhstan. Ablyazov denies it, contending that the case against him is politically motivated.

Ablyazov, who is also wanted in Russia, was arrested in France in 2013 after months on the run.

He was released from jail on December 9 after France’s highest administrative court canceled an order for his extradition to Russia, saying Moscow had made the request for political reasons.

Ablyazov has recently announced his goal to remove President Nursultan Nazarbayev from power in Kazakhstan.

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Times of Central Asia