Austrian court acquits Kazakh security officials in double-murder trial

Vadim Koshlyak and Alnur MusaevKazakhstan’s former spy chief and a former presidential bodyguard have been acquitted by an Austrian jury, five months after a co-defendant in their double-murder trial, who was also the Kazakh president’s former son-in-law, was found dead in his Vienna cell. As intelNews has written before, the case centers on the 2007 disappearance of Aybar Khasenov and Zholdas Timraliyev, both of them senior executives of JSC Nurbank, one of Kazakhstan’s largest private banking institutions. Their bodies were found in May of 2011 in a dumping site in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest urban center. They had been stuffed in large metallic barrels filled with lime. Both had been tortured and one of them had been raped prior to being killed.

The Kazakh regime of autocratic President Nursultan Nazarbayev accused Rakhat Aliyev of the murder of the two executives. Aliyev, who was Nazarbayev’s former son-in-law, had served for years as Kazakhstan’s deputy foreign minister before being appointed director of the country’s intelligence agency, the National Security Committee, also known as KNB. In 2007, however, Aliyev, who by that time was serving as Kazakhstan’s ambassador in Vienna, divorced the president’s eldest daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva. He subsequently fell out with the presidential family in spectacular fashion. He was almost immediately stripped of his government positions, including the title of ambassador, and issued with an arrest warrant, while the Kazakh authorities demanded that Austria surrender him to Astana.

However, Austrian authorities rejected two extradition requests by the Kazakhs and decided instead to investigate the case for themselves. They soon arrested Aliyev along with two of his alleged accomplices in the murder of the Nurbank executives. The two, Vadim Koshlyak, a former bodyguard of Nazarbayev, and Alnur Musaev, who like Aliyev is a former director of the KNB, were also residing in Vienna at the time. All three were taken to prison while the Austrian authorities investigated the murders. The plot thickened in February of this year, however, when Aliyev was found hanged in his Vienna cell. The official verdict was suicide, but Aliyev’s family and lawyers have rejected it and they, along with many other exiled critics of Nazarbayev’s regime, have raised questions about possible complicity of the KNB in the killing. As intelNews reported back in 2009, a Kazakh intelligence operative was arrested by Austrian authorities in 2008, as he was trying to kidnap Musaev.

The trial of the two surviving defendants, Koshlyak and Musaev, opened in April of this year in Vienna amidst tight security, involving dozens of judicial guards. Over sixty witnesses testified either in person or via video-link, many of them in disguise in order to conceal their identities. The BBC described the court proceedings as “the most complex and unusual Austria has seen”. Both defendants pleaded not guilty, while their lawyers said they had been framed by the corrupt Kazakh government because they were friends of the late Aliyev. They also said that Kazakh authorities had provided the Austrian prosecutors with false evidence designed to convict Koshlyak and Musaev.

On Friday last week, Musaev was fully acquitted by the jury while Koshlyak was sentenced to two years in jail, of which 14 months were suspended. In accordance with Austrian judicial procedure, the jury gave no reasoning for its decision. The prosecutors said that they plan to appeal the decision.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 14 July 2015 | Permalink: http://intelnews.org/2015/07/14/01-1734/

Austria probes gruesome murders with alleged Kazakh spy link

Vadim Koshlyak and Alnur MusaevBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
An Austrian court is hearing testimony this week on a gruesome murder case, allegedly by former officials in Kazakhstan’s intelligence agency, one of whom was found dead in his Vienna prison cell in February. The case, which resembles a Hollywood film plot, centers on the disappearance of two bank executives: Aybar Khasenov and Zholdas Timraliyev, both employees of JSC Nurbank, one of Kazakhstan’s largest private banking institutions, vanished without trace in 2007. Their bodies were found in May of 2011 in a dumping site in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest urban center. They had been stuffed in large metallic barrels filled with lime. Both had been tortured and one of them had been raped prior to being killed.

The Kazakh government of authoritarian President Nursultan Nazarbayev accused Rakhat Aliyev of the murder of the two executives. Aliyev, who was Nazarbayev’s former son-in-law, had served for years as Kazakhstan’s deputy foreign minister before being appointed director of the country’s intelligence agency, the National Security Committee, also known as KNB. In 2007, however, Aliyev, who by that time was serving as Kazakhstan’s ambassador in Vienna, divorced the president’s eldest daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva. He then fell out with the presidential family in spectacular fashion. He was almost immediately stripped of his government positions, including the title of ambassador, and issued with an arrest warrant, while the Kazakh authorities demanded that Austria surrender him to Astana.

However, Austrian authorities rejected two consecutive extradition requests by the Kazakhs and decided instead to investigate the case for themselves. They soon arrested Aliyev along with two of his alleged accomplices in the murder of the two Nurbank executives. The two, Vadim Koshlyak, a former bodyguard of Nazarbayev, and Alnur Musaev, who like Aliyev is a former director of the KNB, were also residing in Vienna at the time. All three were taken to prison while the Austrian authorities investigated the murders. The plot thickened in February of this year, however, when Aliyev was found hanged in his Vienna cell. The official verdict was suicide, but Aliyev’s family and lawyers have rejected it and they, along with many other exiled critics of Nazarbayev’s regime, have raised questions about possible complicity of the KNB in the killing. As intelNews reported back in 2009, a Kazakh intelligence operative was arrested by Austrian authorities in 2008, as he was trying to kidnap Musaev.

The trial of the two surviving defendants, Koshlyak and Musaev, opened on Monday in Vienna amidst tight security, involving dozens of judicial guards. Over sixty witnesses are scheduled to testify either in person or via video-link, many of them wearing disguises so as to conceal their identities.

Latest developments in ongoing Kazakh intelligence war

Alnur Musaev

Alnur Musaev

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In September of 2008, a Kazakh spy, identified by Austrian authorities only as “Ildar A.”, tried to kidnap from Austria former Kazakh National Security Committee (KNB) chief Alnur Musaev (photo), who has lived in self-imposed exile in Vienna since 2007. Apparently, Musaev, who has fallen out with the Kazakh dictatorship, knows too many secrets about corrupt Kazakh rulers. One can see why the latter consider him a national security threat: last week, Musaev gave an interview to Washington-owned Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), in which he said that Rakhat Aliyev, also former KNB director and former son-in-law of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, might have been involved in the kidnapping of two high-ranking bankers in Kazakhstan. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0063

  • UK government ministers, MI6 boss, reject torture accusations. Britain’s home secretary, Alan Johnson, and foreign secretary, David Miliband, have rejected claims that the UK operated a “policy to collude in, solicit, or directly participate in abuses of [war on terrorism] prisoners” or to cover up abuses. The outgoing director of MI6, Sir John Scarlett, has also said that there has been “no torture and there is no complicity with torture” by British agents.
  • Ex-spy may succeed Kazakh leader. An unnamed senior security official may eventually succeed Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled Kazakhstan for 20 years.
  • Congressman tells Holder to widen torture probe. Several news outlets are verifying earlier rumors (reported on by intelNews on July 13) that the Obama Administration is considering the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the use of torture by US intelligence agencies after September 11, 2001. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, has said he wants US Attorney General Eric Holder to extend the rumored investigation beyond CIA interrogators, and determine whether high-level officials of the Bush administration committed war crimes.

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Austrian police officers arrested on Kazakh espionage charges

Rakhat Aliyev

Rakhat Aliyev

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last month we reported on Rakhat Aliyev, former Director of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (KNB) and former son-in-law to the country’s dictatorial president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. In 2007, following his divorce with Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter, Aliyev was stripped of his government positions, issued with an arrest warrant, and now lives in exile in Vienna, Austria. Soon afterwards, Aliyev began exposing President Nazarbayev’s corrupt dealings with foreign oil companies operating in Kazakhstan. In January of this year, a Kazakh-employed public relations firm working to “exonerate” Nazarbayev was found to have received assistance from “two anonymous serving officers of MI6″, Britain’s external intelligence agency. Now a new scandal has erupted in Vienna, where two Austrian police officers have been arrested by the country’s authorities and charged with “spying for Kazakhstan”. The two officers were apprehended by counterintelligence agents while reportedly “gathering information from a computer about Rakhat Aliyev”. Read more of this post

MI6 agents accused of assisting corrupt Kazakh oil propaganda effort

Rakhat Aliyev

Rakhat Aliyev

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Until recently, Rakhat Aliyev was deeply embedded in Kazakhstan’s corrupt governing establishment. Having served for years as the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister and Director of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (the intelligence service, also known as KNB) he is uniquely aware of the annals of sleaze and fraud that dominate Kazakh political culture. In 2007, following his divorce with Dariga Nazarbayeva, eldest daughter of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Aliyev became estranged from the Kazakh leadership. He was stripped of his government positions, issued with an arrest warrant, and now lives in exile in Vienna, Austria. Soon after his estrangement from the Kazakh leadership, Aliyev began accusing President Nazarbayev of regularly receiving secret commissions from foreign oil companies operating in Kazakhstan, and of illegally expropriating state assets worth billions of US dollars. Read more of this post

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