Two Kazakh nationals have made a renewed police challenge, to ask the Maltese law courts to investigate their accusations of torture against Kazakh exile Rakhat Aliyev, who resides in Malta. Despite repeated requests, the police have so far refused to investigate complaints by former bodyguards Satzhev Ibraev and Pyotr Afanasenko. The two men claim they were tortured on order of Aliyev in 2001, and personally beaten by him, to extract a false confession that their boss, former prime minister Akezhan Kazageldin, was plotting a coup against Aliyev's father-in-law, Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev.
This is the second challenge to the courts after the Attorney General's office said that the police had no jurisdiction to investigate "crimes against humanity".
The two bodyguards have filed a new challenge, reiterating that although they made four requests to Peter Paul Zammit to investigate their torture complaint, the Commissioner of Police did not take any action.
Their lawyer says that Article 139A of the Criminal Code is clear about what torture is.
"Any public official who, in their official capacity, knowingly inflicts physical or mental pain and suffering for the purpose of obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, is liable to a imprisonment of five to nine years.
"Article 139A was introduced in the Criminal Code in 1990, when Malta ratified the Convention Against Torture which lays an obligation on member states to prosecute torture, even if committed outside Malta. There are no issues of jurisdiction or retroactivity as claimed by the Attorney General in his opposition against the previous complaint."
The CAT states that an act of torture is any act by which sever pain or suffering is intentionally inflicted on a person to obtain a confession, or punishing him for an act he or a third person is committed or suspect of having committed.Ibraev and Afanasenko have presented sworn affidavits claiming they were imprisoned for over four months in "inhumane conditions", threatened with violence and death.
"They threatened to arrest my wife and inflict violence on her. They threatened to pursue my children and close relative. Furthermore, the investigators and operatives did not conceal that they were acting on personal orders from Rakhat Aliyev, who had instructed them to do whatever was necessary to extract a confession from me that would allow a warrant for the arrest of Akezhan Kahegeldin," Ibraev says.
Afanasenko also claims in his affidavit that Aliyev told him that if he didn't testify that Kazhegelding was planning a coup, "my daughters [would] be pumped full of drugs and raped."
Their lawyer said that the Convention Against Torture obliges Malta to take any necessary steps against individuals who commit acts of torture in other countries, if they are permanent residents in Malta.
Aliyev, 52, has been living in Malta since 2010, availing himself of the right of free movement across the EU as the spouse of Austrian citizen Elnara Shorazova. Although a court has declared that he is "permanent resident", Aliyev has applied for naturalisation in Cyprus, as this newspaper previously revealed.
"The fact that the Commissioner of Police is not taking action on these complaints is prejudicing the opportunity that Aliyev faces a court of justice on these accusations, because without him being accused before the Maltese courts, he can abscond these accusations," the lawyer said.
Aliyev was living in Austria as the Kazakh ambassador to OSCE, before falling out with his father-in-law, the dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, and being forcibly divorced from his daughter. In 2008 he was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment in absentia by a Kazakh court over the murder of two bankers. Austria refused to extradite him. Instead it opened its own criminal investigations.
Aliyev has denied the allegations of torture, claiming the two bodyguards are being forced to run "a systematic smear campaign" against him. Aliyev also claims that Kazakh secret agents are in Malta to monitor his movements, and possibly kill him and his family.
"The Kazakh secret service has long been trying to influence the Maltese courts, the Attorney General and the police force," he said.
Under former police commissioner John Rizzo, four complaints to have the torture allegations investigated were not taken up, and the Attorney General has backed up the police so far.