Kazakhstan's former spy chief and a presidential family guard went on trial for murder in Austria on Tuesday just weeks after the main suspect, the president's former son-in-law, was found hanged in his cell in Vienna.
Austria had twice refused to extradite Rakhat Aliyev, a former Kazakh ambassador to Austria who became a vocal critic of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and had been investigating the case for eight years. Aliyev turned himself in last June.
Prosecutors showed what they said was a reconstruction of the 2007 kidnap, sexual assault and murder of two bankers whom ex-secret service chief, Alnur Mussayev, and presidential guard, Vadim Koshlyak, allegedly killed out of loyalty to Aliyev.
They showed slides of a sauna complex, banking offices and a country house where, they said, the two men were beaten and one raped. The bodies of Zholdas Timraliyev and Aybar Khasenov were found in metal barrels buried in a dump.
"What I'm telling you now sounds in part like a Hollywood film," prosecutor Bettina Wallner told the court on Tuesday.
Lawyers for Aliyev doubt the official verdict of suicide. He had been sentenced in absentia to 20 years in jail in Kazakhsatan for murdering the two bankers for financial gain.
Lawyer Klaus Ainedter said in a break from trial proceedings that Austrian authorities had not sufficiently checked evidence from Kazakhstan, which he says framed Aliyev because he challenged Nazarbayev and was separated from his daughter.
Austrian prosecutors say they based their case on their own investigation. Gerald Ganzger, the lawyer representing the murdered bankers' widows, said every piece of evidence had been thoroughly examined by Austrian authorities.
"They are not stupid," he told reporters. "I will do my bit so that this can be proof of the achievements of Austrian justice and that we don't have to be embarrassed by this trial."
Both Mussayev's and Koshlyak's lawyers will plead not guilty in the trial, which will run at least until June.
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