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French court backs extradition of exiled Kazakh oligarch Ablyazov

Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov arrives at the courthouse in Lyon on October 17, 2014 before a hearing as part of his appeal trial regarding his extradition to Russia
Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov arrives at the courthouse in Lyon on October 17, 2014 before a hearing as part of his appeal trial regarding his extradition to Russia AFP / Philippe Merle

A French court on Friday authorised the extradition of exiled Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov to Russia and Ukraine, despite concerns over his safety if the move goes ahead.

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Ablyazov, a former minister turned opposition figure turned banker turned fugitive, is wanted by Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan on embezzlement charges which he says were trumped up by his arch-foe, the president of his oil-rich nation, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

After months on the run he was arrested on the French Riviera in July last year and France has since been grappling with the vast and tangled case of what to do with the 51-year-old.

The court said priority would be given to Russia for the extradition. The scale of the embezzlement alleged by Moscow of $5 billion (four billion euros) is far greater than that alleged by Ukraine $400 million.

A French court had already ruled in favour of his extradition in January, but this decision was subsequently overturned by an appeals court in April.

This is not the end of the journey for Ablyazov, who can still to take the case to the country's final appeals court -- the Cour de Cassation -- the State Council, which is France's top administrative court, and the European Court of Human Rights.

(AFP)

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