Austria Charges Former Kazakh Diplomat in Murder Probe

Rakhat Aliyev, the ex-husband of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter, was charged in Austria in connection with the murder of two Kazakh bankers.

Vienna prosecutors filed the charges yesterday, spokesman Thomas Vecsey said in a telephone interview. He declined to elaborate on the nature of the charges before all lawyers involved in the case have been officially notified.

Aliyev, 52, has been in a Vienna jail since he surrendered to authorities in June. Kazakhstan charged Aliyev, a former diplomat serving in the Austrian capital, with kidnapping the Kazakh bankers in 2007. He was tried in absentia in 2008 for plotting a coup and sentenced to 20 years in jail.

Austria refused to extradite Aliyev because he couldn’t be guaranteed a fair trial in his home country and started its own investigation into the case.

Aliyev owned a stake in Nurbank OJSC at the time Kazakh authorities alleged he kidnapped Zholdas Timraliyev and Aybar Khasenov, two top executives at the bank. Their bodies were discovered on the outskirts of Almaty in May 2011.

Aliyev has denied the charges. His Austrian lawyer, Stefan Prochaska, didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Kazakh prosecutors also reopened a probe into the murder of an opposition leader last year after the convicted killer changed his testimony and accused Aliyev of ordering the attack. Altynbek Sarsenbayev was gunned down in February 2006 along with his assistant and driver.

(Corrects victim’s name in fifth paragraph in story published Dec. 30)
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