Kazakh suspect finds refuge in Austria
The only thing missing, he said, are the bodies of the two men.
Mr. Aliyev has rejected the charges as politically motivated. He points out that several Kazakh journalists and opposition figures have vanished or been killed in recent years, raising doubts about the legitimacy of the country’s legal system.
Such doubts have so far stymied cooperation from the Austrian government.
Ergali Merzadinov, Kazakhstan’s deputy prosecutor general, said it’s not Austria’s right to dismiss the legal system of another country when clear crimes have been committed.
“If a man is behind a premeditated kidnapping - or worse - how can you talk about political matters?” he asked. Mr. Aliyev “is a criminal. This is all a very pathetic attempt to save his skin.”
Some former Aliyev associates are speaking out against him. Vyacheslav Denissenko, a diplomatic officer at the Kazakh Embassy in Austria while Mr. Aliyev was ambassador there, said his former boss is a “troublemaker” who has tried to cast his case in a political context to deflect criminal charges.
Mr. Denissenko said he opted to return to Kazakhstan rather than spend the rest of his life in exile. He would not discuss particulars of the crimes, saying that state secrets were involved.
However, he included himself in saying that those convicted of being Mr. Aliyev’s co-conspirators “got what they deserved.”
Critics of Mr. Aliyev argue that the corrupt state system in which he thrived for years is what allowed him to commit crimes in the first place and escape.
When police were first called to the Nurbank office where the bankers were detained, they were arrested and prevented from entering by members of the financial police, an outfit then operating under the authority of Mr. Aliyev.
The official police investigation into the abduction was begun in late May, nearly three months after the bankers’ wives began reaching out to media and police. By then, Mr. Aliyev had flown back to Austria.
Asked whether the police could have responded faster, Col. Mashanlo, the lead investigator, conceded that initially there was “some resistance to the police’s work” from Mr. Aliyev’s associates within the government.
He went on to suggest that Mr. Aliyev’s stature and control of the financial police slowed authorities from taking charges against him more seriously.
“The political system in Kazakhstan is to blame,” said Gulnara Timeraliyeva, the sister of one of the kidnapped bankers. “We don’t care about the politics, though. All we want is to get my brother back.”