aliev1A wanted former top Kazakh government official sentenced to imprisonment for various crimes and ordered to pay damages connected with torture is currently living in an apartment in Amery Street, Sliema, The Sunday Times has learnt.

 

However, despite diplomatic pressure on Malta to arrest Rahkhat Alijev and bring him to justice, government officials explained the former diplomat entered Malta legally together with his wife, an Austrian citizen. And there is also no official extradition request from Kazakhstan or Austria.

 

Allegations that Malta is 'hosting' a wanted criminal are being made by Akezhan Kazhegeldin, a former Prime Minister of Kazakhstan and his lawyer Lothar de Maizière, who was the last democratically-elected East German Prime Minister.

 

Both former politicians told The Sunday Times that according to the latest information from the Austrian Interior Ministry and Interpol, Mr Alijev is currently living in Malta. This information was later confirmed by a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry who said Mr Alijev is married to an Austrian citizen, has an Austrian residence permit, and had entered Malta legally.

 

Mr Alijev, 49, was originally married to the eldest daughter of Kazhak President Nursultan Nazarbayev and held many important political posts in the former Soviet republic, including that of Deputy Foreign Minister and Head of the Security Services.

 

In 2007, after becoming embroiled in a controversy over the disappearance of two former Kazakh bank executives, he was sent to Vienna as ambassador to Austria and the OSCE.

 

However, it seems his relationship with his father-in-law turned sour and after divorcing Mr Nazarbayev's daughter, Mr Alijev became a wanted man.

 

In his absence, as Austria turned down an extradition order on grounds that he could not have a fair trial back home, a Kazakh court condemned him to 20 years' imprisonment for seizure of power through violence, embezzlement of state property, illegal trafficking of arms and disclosure of state secrets.

 

Police sources also told The Sunday Times that Mr Alijev has always maintained he is the victim of a political frame-up, which came about after divorcing the Kazakh President's daughter.

 

However, last July, following allegations of torture by two bodyguards of former Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, a Vienna court ordered Mr Alijev to pay damages to one of the bodyguards.

 

"All we are seeking is justice. We were given information that Mr Alijev is being hosted in Malta. If this is true, Malta needs to clear its name and bring this person to justice," Mr de Maiziere said.

 

"Mr Alijev is super-rich and he can get around legalities," Mr Kazhegeldin added.

 

Mr de Maiziere claimed the Austrian authorities were turning a blind eye to the case as Mr Alijev had made many "influential" friends in the Austrian capital.

 

In various meetings with top politicians in Brussels, including powerful MEPs, both Mr de Maiziere and Mr Kazhegldin encouraged them to put pressure on Malta to take steps against Mr Alijev. German MEP Elmar Brok, former chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, has even sent a letter requesting information to Foreign Minister Tonio Borg.

 

However, it seems the case is turning out to be quite complicated.

 

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry confirmed Malta has received complaints about Mr Alijev but said no action can be taken against him.

 

www.timesofmalta.com