Italy minister Alfano survives vote in deportation row

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, 19 Jul 13 Mr Alfano says he was unaware of Kazakh diplomatic pressure

Related Stories

Italy's Interior Minister Angelino Alfano has survived a no-confidence vote in the Senate, triggered by a row over the deportation of a Kazakh dissident's family.

The row has threatened the stability of Italy's ruling coalition.

The opposition motion against Mr Alfano was defeated by 226 votes to 55.

There are suspicions that the extradition was carried out as a favour to oil-rich Kazakhstan, which has a poor human rights record.

Just before the vote, Prime Minister Enrico Letta strongly defended Mr Alfano.

He told the Senate that the minister had not been involved in the expulsion of Alma Shalabayeva, wife of dissident banker Mukhtar Ablyazov, and their six-year-old daughter in May.

But Mr Letta acknowledged that the deportation meant "embarrassment and disrepute" for Italy.

Mr Alfano insists he was unaware of Kazakh diplomatic pressure over Mr Ablyazov's family. His chief of staff resigned over the affair this week.

Ms Shalabayeva and her daughter were arrested by police who raided their home in suburban Rome in May and who then put them on a private Kazakh jet which flew them to the Central Asian republic.

UN experts voice concern

The Italian government has ordered an investigation into the case and has revoked the deportation order retroactively.

Mr Letta urged senators to back the minister so the government could carry on its work of addressing Italy's economic problems.

"What I am asking you for is a new vote of confidence in the government which I have the honour to lead," he said.

Mr Letta heads a fragile coalition of centre-left and right-wing parties.

Mr Alfano is an ally of the former conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

UN human rights experts have criticised Italy over the Kazakhstan affair. The dissident's wife and daughter were legally resident in the European Union.

"The circumstances of the deportation give rise to the appearance that this was in fact an extraordinary rendition which is of great concern to us," the UN experts said.

Extraordinary rendition was the name given to the controversial US policy of handing over terror suspects to US-friendly countries where they were at risk of torture and other human rights abuses.

Mr Ablyazov, a former energy minister and chairman of BTA bank, fled Kazakhstan in 2009. He was granted political asylum in the UK but his current location is not known.

BTA filed a lawsuit against him, accusing him of siphoning off billions of US dollars from the bank.

He denies wrongdoing, calling the case politically motivated. He is said to have funded opposition parties and media in Kazakhstan, where President Nursultan Nazarbayev keeps a tight grip on power and resists calls for democracy.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Europe stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Woman in swimming pool Green stuff

    The element that makes a familiar smell when mixed with urine


  • Plane at Shannon airportShannon's call

    The airport that hosted a roll-call of presidents


  • Record playing on turntableVinyl destination

    The eight tribes of people who keep buying records


  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at RAAF Amberley airbase near Brisbane on 19 AprilIn pictures

    Fighter jets and screaming crowds for William and Kate


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ITChild's play

    It's never been easier for small businesses to get their message out to the world

Programmes

  • Joe Ierardi playing a pianoClick Watch

    Meet the man trying to create the perfect digital piano - but is it as good as the real thing?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.