rahat-aliev 140Kazakhstan\'s President Nursultan Nazarbayev\'s former son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev – now referred to as Kazakhstan\'s Public Enemy Number One – is facing murder charges over four years after two bankers he is alleged to have slain disappeared.

 

Aliyev\'s whereabouts are unknown; but he was last reported seeking sanctuary in Malta.

 

Evidence \"irrefutably proving\" the bankers\' murder by Aliyev and his associates has emerged, Prosecutor-General Askhat Daulbayev said on 15 June in remarks quoted by KazTAG.

 

He said the men had been tortured, suffocated, put in barrels and hidden in the Remizov Gorge outside Almaty, where their bodies were finally found this May.

 

Daulbayev didn\'t explain why it took over four years to locate the bodies of the bankers - – Zholdas Timraliyev and Aybar Khasenov - or why law enforcement officers ignored the pleas from their relatives, who pointed to a business dispute with Aliyev, as the key to the mystery.\'

 

It was reported at the time, \"Timraliyev\'s wife, Armangul Kapasheva, alleges that prior to his disappearance, Timraliyev was kidnapped and subjected to violence and intimidation in an attempt to force him to ensure that management of a lucrative business centre in Almaty, Kazakhstan\'s financial capital, passed to the president\'s son-in-law.\"

 

Investigators now agree this is precisely what happened, but at the time no case had been launched against Aliyev, then deputy foreign minister. He was dispatched to Vienna as ambassador in a bid to get the embarrassing case out of the headlines.

 

In May 2007, three months after the disappearance of the bankers, Aliyev finally fell out of favor. He was accused of crimes including plotting to overthrow Nazarbayev, kidnapping the bankers and fraud and was divorced by the president\'s daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva. In 2008 he was tried twice in absentia and given two 20-year prison sentences.

 

Aliyev denies any criminal activity and positions himself as a wronged democrat, an image the administration and opposition alike in Kazakhstan reject.

 

Now he\'s facing murder charges, but there is little chance of him being extradited to face trial.

 

Vienna previously denied his extradition on the grounds that he wouldn\'t be guaranteed a fair trial at home. Astana has vowed to seek his extradition again but – given Kazakhstan\'s skewed justice system – there is no reason to believe any European country would grant it.

 

www.independent.com.mt