LRT Case: Main Witness Spoke about The Pressure from The Investigators

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One of the key witnesses in the Astana LRT criminal case, Aitkazy Arykbayev, testified in court, but the current testimony of the witness differs from those he gave in 2020.

Aitkazy Arykbayev is the former Managing Director of Astana LRT LLP, which was renamed City Transportation Systems LLP in 2020. Earlier, Arykbayev stated that Kanat Sultanbekov and Talgat Ardan, who are still at large, lobbied for the implementation of the project for the construction of the LRT and BRT lines.

RMB: According to the investigation, former deputy akim of the capital Kanat Sultanbekov and former chairman of the Board of Astana LRT Talgat Ardan are considered to be the organizers of the crime.

At the main court hearing, Arykbayev insisted on the current testimony and requested not to take into account the testimony from 2020.

In that testimony, he stated that Kanat Sultanbekov lobbied for the interests of the Spanish company TIPSA. During the trial, it became known that investigator Shalenov put pressure on Arykbayev's witness.

"He said, 'If you stick to these statements, that's it. And we will not hold you criminally liable" He said that investigative measures and criminal prosecution against me will be completed,"


According to him, the investigators corrected his testimony and indicated what should be written and in what tone.

Prosecutor Kaidarov asked to attach a report to the case file to verify the facts of illegal investigative methods, but the lawyers objected. They believe that this is another method of pressure on the witness, Aitkazy Arykbayev.

"I regard this report as pressure on a witness who gives truthful testimony in court. Tomorrow, when the conclusion of the pre-trial investigation body will be based on this report that the facts of pressure have not been confirmed, the witness may be suspected of giving false testimony. The reason why he then gave other testimony, he explained clearly and clearly that pressure was exerted. And this is not the first time we have heard this during the judicial investigation,"

said lawyer Dina Sarsenova.

Pressure Readings

The ex-owner of the company "Arkan pro", Dauren Abdykhamitov, and the former chairman of the Board of JSC "Astana Innovations", Talgat Ashim, have already stated about the pressure from the investigators. They are the only defendants under house arrest.

Abdykhamitov stated that he was asked to persuade another defendant, Ulugbek Achilov, to plead guilty. Achilov himself confirms Abdykhamitov's words.

According to his statement, the head of the 2nd Antikor department, Sergey Perov, invited Abdykhamtov to his office and offered to compensate him for the damage. After this, the case would be terminated under Article 65 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan "Exemption from criminal liability in connection with active repentance."

Another defendant, Talgat Ashim, said that he was forced under pressure to give false testimony.

Prosecutor Kaidarov believes that since Ashim was still held witness status with the right to defence, he was repeatedly involved in investigative actions. If illegal investigative methods were used against him, he would have long ago declared this to his lawyer or written a corresponding statement or complaint.

"The fact that Ashim has not contacted about the use of illegal investigative methods against him since December 2019 casts doubt on the veracity of the testimony he gave in this regard,"

The state prosecutor said.

The defence believes that the state accusation is not based on facts, but simply expresses its assumption: "Ashim could have filed a complaint with law enforcement agencies or at least could have told his lawyer about it." Ashim did not file complaints, perhaps this is the result of psychological pressure, the defendants' lawyers believe.

Built-up But Not Completed

Now there are nine people in the dock in the LRT case: five are in court from the pre-trial detention center (ex-head of the Department of Passenger Transport and Highways of Astana, Rashid Amanzhulov, ex-secretary of the Maslikhat of Astana, Zhanat Nurpeisov, former head of the Nur-Trade company Ulugbek Achilov, ex-director of the subcontracting organization of NPF Geobur LLP, Timur Kasabaev, ex-head of Rimteks LLP Dulat Musenov – Editor's note). Former Chairman of the Board of Astana Innovations Talgat Ashim and ex-owner of Arkan Pro Dauren Abdykhamitov are under house arrest, and the head of LRT LLP Talgat Ardan and ex-deputy mayor of the capital Kanat Sultanbekov are on the international wanted list.

The construction of the LRT in Astana began back in 2011. It has yet to be completed. Astana residents have long nicknamed it a "monument of corruption".

In his January address to the people of Kazakhstan, President Qasym-Jomart Toqayev said that "LRT has turned into a serious problem that harms the country's reputation. The project was initially flawed and smelled of corruption."

In May 2021, the court handed down a verdict in the Astana LRT case. Seven defendants were given from seven to 10 years in prison. Then the city court overturned the verdict. The case was returned to the prosecutor to eliminate significant violations that prevent the appointment of the main trial.

According to investigators, 5.8 billion KZT was stolen during the construction of the LRT. Former Deputy Akim of the capital, Kanat Sultanbekov, and former chairman of the Board of Astana LRT, Talgat Ardan, are considered to be the organizers of the crime. Both are on the international wanted list. According to the latest data, Ardan is hiding in Türkiye, while Sultanbekov is in the United States.

At the same time, Sultanbekov's wife posted photos of luxurious life from Manhattan on Instagram with the captions: "I allowed myself to be rich!".

Original Author: Dilara Yahyarova

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