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Italian Police Arrest Mother and 6-Year-Old Girl and Force them onto Flight to Kazakhstan

Italian Police Arrest Mother and 6-Year-Old Girl and Force them onto Flight to Kazakhstan 
Wife and Daughter of Dictator’s Archrival Face Torture in Kazakhstan; 
After Violent Wednesday Night Arrest in Rome Raid, Mercilessly Expelled Friday Despite Torture Risk; 
Italy to Face Legal Action for Rights Violations, But Hopes Dashed for Woman and Child
 

Almaty (1 June 2013) – In suddenly arresting and expelling a mother and her 6-year-old daughter without notice or a hearing, Italian police and judicial authorities have committed a grave injustice in complicity with the dictatorial regime of Kazakhstan. On Wednesday night some 30 heavily armed police officers raided а house in the suburbs of Rome where Ms Alma Shalabayeva was staying, arresting her and also subsequently taking into custody her 6-year-old daughter. On Friday, despite frantic and intense efforts by lawyers to stop their extradition, Shalabayeva and her daughter were mercilessly loaded onto a chartered private jet and sent to Kazakhstan.
 
Shalabayeva is the wife of Mukhtar Ablyazov, the political archrival of Kazakhstan’s dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Ablyazov was granted asylum in the United Kingdom in 2011. British police have warned Ablyazov of a plot to assassinate him on British soil. Ablyazov has gone into hiding as Kazakhstan has actively sought to arrest him and have him extradited in the latest chapter of a decade-long political feud between President Nazarbayev and Ablyazov, a successful entrepreneur, former government minister and leading advocate for democratic reform.
 
With Kazakhstan unable to locate Ablyazov, Italy’s arrest and extradition of Shalabayeva and her daughter has in effect provided two hostages to a repressive dictatorship with a shameful and widely documented record of human rights abuses. Ablyazov is himself a former political prisoner of Kazakhstan, recognised as such by Amnesty International, the OSCE and the United States State Department. Kazakhstan’s brutal decade-long campaign against Ablyazov and his associates was apparently not even considered by Italian authorities before they decided to deliver Ablyazov’s wife and daughter into the custody of an autocratic dictator who has vowed to destroy him.
 
A Rome judge apparently approved the extradition of Shalabayeva, but lawyers were given no opportunity to stop or even delay the deportation, despite the near-certainty that the woman and her daughter will be tortured and used as pawns to compel Ablyazov to come out of hiding. Nor were the lawyers given proper access to Shalabayeva and her daughter. The lawyers reacted with disbelief when informed on Friday that Shalabayeva, less than 24 hours after her arrest, as well as her daughter, were already on a chartered private jet en route to Kazakhstan.
 
There is no legal basis or urgency for ejecting this woman and her daughter within just one day. Moving so quickly, the Italian authorities seem to have acted in complicity with Kazakhstan. Shalabayeva and her daughter had no chance to claim asylum or to appeal to the Italian courts or European Court of Human Rights to prevent their deportation. Now that Italy has expelled them, they have no hope for redress.
 
 
Bakhytzhan Toregozhina
Public foundation “Ar.Rukh.Khak”, Almaty, Kazakhstan
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