Foreign

Top Italian policemen suspended after Kazakh kidnapping convictions

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Six Italian policemen, including two senior officers, were suspended on Friday after being convicted of kidnapping and forcibly repatriating the family of a Kazakh dissident.

Italian Police Chief, Franco Gabrielli, said in a statement that the verdict shows that the force respects the court’s ruling and does not consider itself to be above the law.

In 2013, Rome Police arrested Alma Shalabayeva after failing to find her then-fugitive husband Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Within 48 hours, she was flown back to Astana, along with her six-year-old daughter.

On Wednesday, a court in Perugia handed five-year jail terms to Renato Cortese and Maurizio Improta for their involvement in the affair.

At the time, Cortese led police rapid response teams and Improta was head of immigration affairs.

They have since become Chief of Police in Palermo and Head of the Railways Police, respectively.

They were suspended, along with four junior officers, who were also convicted of kidnapping.

However, this is not a formal disciplinary measure, as they are merely being removed from their posts before being transferred to new jobs.

Gabrielli said he was disappointed and expressed his full belief in the officers’ innocence.

“The men will not be jailed before they appeal, as is customary in Italy.’’

The Shalabayeva case was a major embarrassment for Italian authorities, as the woman was handed to Kazakh diplomats without the right to appeal against deportation or seek asylum.

The Italian government later pressured Kazakhstan to lift a travel ban on Shalabayeva and her daughter, allowing them to return to Europe.

Edited By: Hadiza MohammedAbdulfatah Babatunde
Source: NAN

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