17/07/13 12:05 CET
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Italy’s Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano, is fighting calls for his resignation over the deportation of the wife and daughter of a dissident Kazakh politician.
Having told parliament he knew nothing about the deportation, his former cabinet chief, Giuseppe Procaccini, who resigned over the affair, has told La Repubblica newspaper that Alfano was informed.
On May 29th, Alma Shalabayeva and her six year old daughter, Alua Ablyazova, were seized from a house in Rome. They were deported to Kazakhstan two days later on a private jet accompanied by Kazak diplomats.
Italian authorities claimed there were irregularities in Shalabayeva’s documents, although her lawyers have since proven that they were legitimate. The Italian government later rescinded its expulsion order, in recognition that the forced return had violated Italian law, and said the pair could return.
Shalabayeva’s husband, Mukhtar Ablyazov, an ex-energy minister and bank chairman in Kazakhstan, was granted political asylum in the UK in 2011.
He is accused of embezzling billions of euros from the bank, charges which Amnesty International says are politically motivated. He has been in hiding since last year when he fled Britain after missing a contempt of court hearing at which he was due to be jailed for 22 months.
Ablyazov accuses the Kazakhstan government of kidnapping his family.
Italian media has reported that Berlusconi, the head of Alfano’s party, is on good terms with the President of Kazakhstan. Italy’s state-owned oil giant Eni is one of several co-owners of Kazakhstan’s Kashagan field, the world’s biggest oilfield discovery in more than 40 years.
The Italian parliament is preparing to consider an internal inquiry by the interior minister this Thursday into allegations of collusion between both countries and other violations of Italian law. Alfano will face a no-confidence vote.
Amnesty International has called for the Italian government to investigate the affair and make all the facts public. It says it is concerned for the welfare of Shalabayeva in a country with a long record of torture and unfair trials.
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