Europe

Austria charges Kazakhstan dissident Aliyev with murder

This picture taken in Vienna on September 6, 2012 shows a sign of the Polizei, Austria's Police department. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rakhat Aliyev says the charges against him are politically motivated

A former son-in-law of Kazakhstan's president who later became a prominent opponent has been charged with murder by prosecutors in Austria.

Rakhat Aliyev, a former ambassador to Austria, is accused of killing two bank managers in his home country in 2007.

Kazakhstan has attempted to have him extradited to face trial, but Austria has twice refused because of the former Soviet republic's human rights record.

Instead, Austrian prosecutors opened their own murder investigation in 2011.

Mr Aliyev has denounced the case against him as politically motivated.

However, in June he flew voluntarily to Vienna from his home in Malta and handed himself in to the Austrian authorities. Since then, he has been held in "investigative custody".

On Tuesday, a court in Vienna said Mr Aliyev had been charged.

A spokeswoman for the court told the Reuters news agency that the judge had not set any bail option and that Mr Aliyev's lawyers had two weeks to appeal against the charges.

He faces at least 10 years in prison if found guilty of murder. If extradited to Kazakhstan he could face a sentence of up to 40 years.

Mr Aliyev was once married to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's eldest daughter, Dariga.

A businessman with extensive contacts among the Kazakh elite, he spoke out against Mr Nazarbayev after being sacked as ambassador to Austria.

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