VIENNA, August 9 (RIA Novosti) - An Austrian court refused to extradite the Kazakh president's former son-in-law, an outspoken critic of the autocratic leader, saying he would not receive a fair trial in Kazakhstan, a prosecutor's spokesman said.
Rakhat Aliyev was arrested in Vienna at the beginning of June after Kazakh authorities accused him of kidnapping two top managers of Nurbank, a bank he controls in Kazakhstan. Aliyev, a former ambassador to Austria, said the charges against him were trumped up by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who considered him a political threat.
Explaining the Vienna court's ruling, prosecutor's spokesman Gerhard Jarosch said: "The court ruled that his human rights could not be guaranteed if he were sent back home." The spokesman said the decision implied Aliyev was now a free man.
Aliyev, the former husband of Nazarbayev's eldest daughter Dariga, was fired as Kazakhstan's ambassador to Austria on May 26 after he accused the Kazakh president of totalitarian rule and announced he would run against the leader at the 2012 elections. Weeks later, the president's daughter divorced him.
Nazarbayev, who has ruled the large ex-Soviet state for 17 years, recently signed a constitutional amendment allowing himself to be re-elected as leader an unlimited number of times, a rule that will not apply to subsequent leaders. Despite criticism of his autocratic style of leadership, he remains popular in his home country, which has seen strong oil-driven economic growth in recent years.
Rakhat Aliyev, 44, told Austrian authorities that if he were sent back to Kazakhstan, his life would be in danger. As well as the kidnapping charge, he is accused in Kazakhstan of organizing a group of raiders who illegally seized land and real estate.
After the court's announcement, the Kazakh Interior Ministry said the country would not back down, but would continue to seek the ex-diplomat's extradition.
A spokesman for the ministry criticized the hearings, saying none of the lawyers hired by Kazakh authorities were present in court, and none of them had even been informed of the time and place of the trial.
He stood by the evidence against Aliyev, calling it "irrefutable", and saying the court had not properly considered it.