It would seem that one criminal conviction will not suffice for Rakhat Aliyev - the disgraced former son-in-law of Kazakhstan's president. Shortly after Aliyev's trial in absentia on racketeering and kidnapping charges ended with a conviction, a new legal case began in a closed military court, supposedly relating Aliyev's activities as deputy chairman of the Committee for National Security Committee (KNB).
Aliyev fell out of favor with President Nursultan Nazarbayev last May and is now on trial at an Almaty military court along with a former KNB director, Alnur Musayev. The two, who are both abroad, face charges including forcible seizure of power, running an organized crime ring, illegally passing on state secrets and abuse of power. The military tribunal opened on January 23, a week after an Almaty court handed down its verdict in the first trial of Aliyev and another 23 defendants, five of whom were tried in absentia. Aliyev was found guilty of running a crime ring, abduction, theft and extortion, and received a 20-year prison sentence. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
The state moved quickly to implement a court ruling to confiscate his property: it has seized nearly half a million dollars from bank accounts, 16 cars, three helicopters, five aircraft, four apartments, a farm, a swimming pool and a sauna complex, Deputy Prosecutor-General Yergali Merzadinov told the Liter newspaper on January 30.
Other defendants in the trial, which opened last November, received sentences ranging from one to 18 years; two were acquitted. Aliyev insists the charges are politically motivated. He issued a scathing statement from Austria, which last summer refused to extradite him to Kazakhstan. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
"President Nazarbayev has sentenced me to 20 years in prison," said Aliyev's statement, which was posted on the Kub website. "I don't think there is a single person who does not understand the obvious: in today's Kazakhstan only President Nazarbayev can punish and pardon. The puppet justice system, deprived of the last vestiges of independence, only rubberstamps decisions which come down from the presidential administration."
Aliyev went on to outline a hazy scheme that many commentators found far-fetched, claiming Nazarbayev has a plan "to privatize the country and hand it over to a successor" by 2030. By Aliyev's calculations, the president is already worth some $15 billion.
If there is one thing relatives of the crime victims agree with Aliyev about, it is that justice has not been done. The key mystery remains unsolved: where are the two senior bankers from Nurbank then controlled by Aliyev who disappeared about a year ago? The court heard that the men were abducted from Almaty on January 31, 2007, handcuffed, dressed in blue overalls and driven to an out-of-town farm. They were beaten and tortured before being driven away in a car with Aliyev on February 9 of last year. They have not been seen since. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
"We are not one iota closer today to our main aim discovering the whereabouts of Zholdas Timraliyev and Aybar Khasenov," Timraliyev's mother, Galina Timraliyeva, said in her closing statement to the court, as reported in the Svoboda Slova newspaper.
Timraliyev's wife, Armangul Kapasheva, echoed that concern: "What happened to them? Are they alive?
Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.