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Ex-Italian official heard in Shalabayeva deportation debacle

'I acted on orders from Interior Minister Angelino Alfano'

13 January, 16:17
Ex-Italian official heard in Shalabayeva deportation debacle (ANSA) - Rome, January 13 - Investigators into the controversial deportation from Italy of the wife and daughter of a Kazakh dissident on Monday took a statement from Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano's former chief of staff, Giuseppe Procaccini, who resigned last summer over the incident.

Italy rescinded the deportation order after the May 31 expulsion of the wife of Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, Alma Shalabayeva, and their six-year-daughter Alua, who were seized in a nighttime raid and put on a private jet with Kazakh diplomats, was brought to light. According to Shalabayeva, some 50 plain-clothes officers mistreated and verbally abused her and her daughter during the operation before turning the two over to the government of Kazakhstan, which has been criticized for human rights abuses.

Procaccini at the time took the fall for Alfano, who testified before parliament that neither he nor any member of Italy's left-right government knew anything about the case until after the pair were deported.

But the former chief of staff revealed in a January 9 interview with Italian daily La Repubblica that he met with the Kazakh ambassador on May 28 to discuss the deportation - on orders of his then-boss Alfano. "Alfano told me it was a matter of a grave threat to public security," Procaccini said. "I didn't find out it involved a woman and her daughter until Alfano himself told me, on June 2".

Ablyazov, who is wanted in Kazakhstan and Russia, is an outspoken critic of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev. Kazakhstan claims Ablyazov, a banker, is not a dissident but an outlaw wanted for a multi-billion-euro embezzlement case at his BTA Bank.