PARIS Dec 9 France's highest administrative
court on Friday cancelled an extradition order to send jailed
Kazakh tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov to Russia on the grounds that the
request was made for political reasons.
Ablyazov, who was arrested in France in 2013, is accused of
embezzling up to $6 billion from his former bank BTA.
The decision by the Conseil d'Etat cancels the extradition
order signed by then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls in 2015, which
gave the green light to send Ablyazov either to Ukraine or
"The Conseil d'Etat believes that the extradition request to
Russia was presented with a political motive," it said in a
France does not have an extradition treaty with Kazakhstan,
which wants to put Ablyazov on trial, but it does with Russia
Ablyazov has long denied fraud, arguing that Kazakh
strongman President Nursultan Nazarbayev wants to eliminate him
as a political opponent and rob him of his assets.
The United Nations Human Rights office said on Wednesday
that it feared Ablyazov would face torture if he were
BTA, the bank in which he held a majority stake and which
was eventually seized by Kazakh authorities, was declared
insolvent in 2009.
Prosecutors said he made loans to front companies he
controlled which were never paid back. He has denied the
accusations that he embezzled.
When Ablyazov was arrested in July 2013, he had been in
hiding since being sentenced to prison for contempt of court by
an English judge in 2012. Ablyazov was granted political asylum
by Britain after he moved there in 2009.
(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Janet Lawrence)