Sun, Jun 03, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Kazakh president's son-in-law held by police in Vienna

AP , VIENNA

A powerful son-in-law of Kazakhstan's president -- wanted in his homeland in connection with an alleged abduction -- was taken into custody by Austrian police, officials said.

Rakhat Aliyev is accused of involvement in the suspected kidnapping of two senior managers of a bank he controls who have been missing since February. He was arrested on Friday afternoon in Vienna, said Gerald Hesztera, a spokesman for the federal bureau of investigation.

Hesztera declined to provide more details, saying only that Aliyev was arrested mid-afternoon after a hair appointment. Kazakh authorities had issued an international warrant for Aliyev's arrest earlier in the week.

Fabricated

Aliyev is the husband of Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev's daughter Dariga, has rejected the allegations, saying they were fabricated on Nazarbayev's orders.

He has been locked for years in standoff with Nazarbayev, a longtime leader credited with bringing stability and relative prosperity to the oil-rich ex-Soviet republic but accused of authoritarianism.

Aliyev, 44, is suspected of trying to unseat Nazarbayev in 2001, and recently advocated the establishment of a monarchy in the ex-Soviet Central Asian nation.

He was fired from his position as deputy foreign minister after the abduction allegations surfaced in February, and was then sent as ambassador to Austria.

Aliyev was dismissed from that position last Saturday, hours after he publicly accused Nazarbayev of a "retreat to totalitarian Soviet past" and said he would run for president in 2012.

Extradition exam

In the next 48 hours, an examining magistrate at a Vienna court will decide whether to extradite Aliyev or release him on bail, prosecution spokesman Gerhard Jarosch told the Austria Press Agency. Kazakhstan filed an extradition request with Austria's Justice Ministry on Wednesday.

Shortly after being taken to the court, Aliyev complained of chest pains and was to be examined by a doctor, APA quoted Jarosch as saying.

Kazakhstan's extradition request also lists six other people who are either staff at the embassy or have a close relationship with Aliyev, APA reported.

Aliyev, a former tax police chief, has substantial business interests. His wife, who controls the country's most powerful media holding, has a seat in parliament and is a deputy chairman of her father's political party.

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