Kazakhstan and France agree to cooperate in criminal matters

Senior correspondent

Mazhilis, the lower house of Kazakhstan’s parliament has approved the interstate agreement between France and Kazakhstan on criminal matters. However, the document won’t help Kazakhstani authorities make Mukhtar Ablyazov, a former Kazakhstani banker and opposition activist, come back to the country, according to Prosecutor General Aset Chindaliyev.

The agreement requires Kazakhstan and France to follow the rules of mutual legal assistance in anything linked to criminal matters. It is expected that by sticking to this practice the two sides will act more effectively in crime prevention.

«This agreement covers legal assistance only. These are legal actions like interrogations and police searches. No extradition is possible under the document. So, I wouldn’t say that this agreement was aimed at the extradition of Ablyazov. We have similar agreements with 29 countries,» Chindaliyev said on the sidelines of a plenary meeting in the Mazhilis.

According to the official, the reason Kazakhstan can’t get Ablyazov back to the country is an absence of arrangements for the mutual extradition of criminals with France.

The recently approved agreement covers arrangements for legal assistance. The document is going to facilitate legal proceedings that are aimed at proving one’s guilty. Each side must file an official application with the information about a case to get legal assistance from the other side.

Witnesses and experts might be invited by either side if necessary.

So far, Kazakhstan has similar agreements with 29 other countries. Each of these agreements on human rights and freedoms was ratified by the national parliament of the country as it is required by international law.

Mukhtar Ablyazov fled from Kazakhstan in 2009 after the collapse of the BTA Bank. The authorities accused him of embezzling of $7.5 billion from the bank. He’s been living in France for several years now.

The Office of the Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan said it won’t stop chasing Ablyazov. In December last year, the National Court of Asylum (CNDA) of France rejected Ablyazov’s application for political asylum in France.

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