Jailed Kazakh businessman Muratkhan Toqmadi, who was sentenced to a lengthy prison term for his alleged involvement in a banker’s killing in 2018, has called on President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev to review his case as he had retracted his testimony against Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive former banker and outspoken critic of Kazakhstan’s government.
Kazakh media outlets carried Toqmadi’s open letter to the president on March 9. Toqmadi’s wife, Zhamila Aiymbetova, confirmed to RFE/RL that her husband wrote the letter.
In his letter, Toqmadi said he confessed to the killing of Erzhan Tatishev on a hunting trip in 2004 and falsely testified four years ago that he killed Tatishev at the behest of Ablyazov because he was tortured and faced psychological pressure imposed on him by the Committee of National Security (KNB).
Toqmadi’s letter to President Toqaev comes after deadly unrest in January that resulted in the removal of Kazakhstan’s former president Nursultan Nazarbaev and his clan from the political scene.
Toqmadi, who was initially sentenced to three years in prison for extortion and illegal firearms possession in 2017, entered the guilty plea at the murder trial in February 2018, which ended with him being sentenced to 10 1/2 years in prison.
In November that year, Ablyazov was tried in absentia, convicted on a murder charge based on Toqmadi’s testimony, and sentenced to life in prison.
After Tatishev’s death on a hunting trip in 2004, which was ruled an accident at the time, Ablyazov became the bank’s chief. He has been living abroad since 2009.
In a separate in-absentia trial that ended in 2017, Ablyazov was convicted of embezzlement, abuse of office, and organizing a criminal group and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Ablyazov denies all the charges, saying they are politically motivated, and has called the claim that he ordered Tatishev’s killing a “lie.”
Toqmadi’s letter comes less than a week after the son of a Kazakh opposition leader, Zamanbek Nurqadilov, whose death in 2005 was officially declared a suicide, demanded a new probe into his father’s death.
Qairat Nurqadilov said on March 3 that he had filed a request to the Prosecutor-General’s Office to reinvestigate the 2005 death of his father, Zamanbek Nurqadilov, once mayor of the oil-rich country’s largest city, Almaty, and chairman of the emergency situations agency. In 2004, he turned into a fierce critic of then-President Nursultan Nazarbaev and his government.
Zamanbek Nurqadilov was found dead with two bullets in his chest and one in his head at his home in Almaty in November 2005. The death was officially declared a suicide.