March 17, 2015 / 11:14 AM / 3 years ago

Kazakh dissident found hanged in Austrian cell is buried

VIENNA (Reuters) - Kazakh dissident Rakhat Aliyev, found hanged in an Austrian prison last month, has been buried in Vienna after prosecutors finally released his body, his lawyer said on Tuesday, continuing to question the official explanation that he killed himself.

File undated photo of Rakhat Aliyev, a former Kazakh ambassador to Austria, taken in Almaty. Aliyev, the Kazakh president's former son-in-law turned political arch enemy, has been found dead in an Austrian jail after killing himself, a court spokeswoman said February 24, 2015, but his lawyers said they doubted he had taken his own life. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/Files

“I am still convinced that this was not a normal suicide but I’m not sure we can prove it,” attorney Manfred Ainedter told Reuters.

The authorities say there is no indication that any third party was involved in the death of Aliyev, a former ambassador to Austria who was awaiting trial on charges that he killed two bankers in Kazakhstan in 2007.

Aliyev, 52, had said the allegations were trumped up by political rivals after he fell out with former allies there, including his ex-father-in-law, President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Aliyev, who became a vocal critic of Nazarbayev, turned himself in to Austrian authorities in June after a four-year investigation.

Austrian prosecutors in December charged him with the murders after Vienna twice rejected Kazakhstan’s requests for extradition because of the former Soviet republic’s human rights record.

An initial post-mortem in Austria found traces of obscure sedatives in Aliyev’s body, which hardened his legal team’s suspicions about the circumstances surrounding the death in a solitary confinement cell.

Austria asked Switzerland to carry out another autopsy to dispel any suggestions of a cover-up. Ainedter said he had heard from prosecutors that results of the second post-mortem were not yet available. “There is no written expertise on the table up until now,” he said.

Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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