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Spain deports Kazakh despite torture threat

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Spain deports Kazakh despite torture threat
Aleksandr Pavlov is the former chief of security of exiled oligarch Kazakh Mukhtar Ablyazov (pictured). File photo: AFP/Interpol
15:15 CET+01:00
The Spanish government said on Wednesday it has approved the extradition to Kazakhstan of the former chief of security of a Kazakh banker-turned-dissident despite warnings from rights groups that he will face torture.

Aleksandr Pavlov was arrested in Spain in December 2012 after his name was placed on Interpol's wanted list at the request of Kazakh authorities who accuse him of embezzlement and plotting terrorist attacks. He denies the allegations against him.

Pavlov argues he is being politically persecuted by the Kazakh government which he says want to obtain information from him about Mukhtar Ablyazov, a foe of strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled the ex-Soviet country for over two decades.

Spain's cabinet approved the extradition during its regular cabinet meeting on Friday, a justice ministry spokeswoman said.

Spain's High Court in November backed the extradition request by a vote of 10–7 but the cabinet had the final say.

The government agreed with the extradition request because Kazakhstan had offered guarantees that Pavlov would be tried within a reasonable time and would be treated humanely, the justice ministry spokeswoman said.

"These were the same conditions that the court based its decision on," she said.

Amnesty International urged Spain to reverse its decision to extradite Pavlov to resource-rich Kazakhstan, which is frequently criticized for its human rights record.

"Assurances of human treatment from governments that routinely torture are useless," said the group's criminal justice expert, Julia Hall.

"The Spanish government cannot and should not trust such empty promises from the Kazakhstani authorities, who have relentlessly pursued Aleksandr Pavlov and other associates of Mukhtar Ablyazov," she added.

In March 2012 Kazakh general prosecutors said security services averted bombing in parks and administrative buildings in Almaty that were "at the preparatory stage" which were masterminded by Pavlov.

Pavlov headed the personal security detail of Ablyazov, a former Kazakh energy and trade minister who is wanted on embezzlement charges by Russia and Ukraine.

Ablyazov, who was arrested on the French Riviera in July, is accused of having stolen billions of dollars in state and investor funds while leading the Kazakh BTA Bank.

A French court on Thursday approved his extradition.

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