[JURIST] An appellate court in Lyon, France has upheld the extradition of Mukhtar Ablyazov [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], Kazakhstan’s former energy minister accused of misappropriating USD $6 billion from BTA Bank [corporate website]. This overrules a previous ruling in which another appellate court had stricken down Mukhtar’s extradition after it was ordered by the trial court [JURIST reports]. The Lyon court has approved Ablyazov’s extradition to either Russia or Ukraine [Reuters report], contingent on assurances that Ablyazov would be treated with a “guarantee of respect for the Human Rights convention.” Ablyazov’s attorney has indicated that he will appeal the verdict to France’s Court of Cassation [official website].
Human rights watchdog groups have criticized Ablyazov’s extradition. Amnesty International (AI) in January advocated against Ablyazov’s extradition [press release] after the French court’s ruling. Julie Hall, AI expert on counter-terrorism and human rights expressed concern that Ablyazov would not receive a fair trial in Russia or Ukraine, and that he would eventually end up in Kazakhstan, where he would be at risk of “torture and other ill-treatment.” Her fears are brought about by a report on the routine cooperation of Russia and Ukraine with central Asian republics [report, PDF], including Kazakhstan, to transfer people back to the area, often in violation of human rights. Kazakhstan has recently drawn international criticism for its human rights record. In November a court in Kazakhstan upheld the conviction [JURIST report] of an outspoken opposition leader accused of inciting dissent in an attempt to overthrow the government. In October Human Rights Watch claimed that oil workers in the country face mistreatment [JURIST report] and repression at the hands of the government and oil companies.