Met arrests son of ousted Kyrgyz leader

Maksim Bakiyev faces extradition to the US, charged with conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice

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The Independent Online

Scotland Yard has arrested the son of the ousted former president of Kyrgyzstan in London. Businessman Maksim Bakiyev, 34, faces extradition to the US on charges of conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice. Mr Bakiyev appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on Friday and was released on bail until December. He arrived in the UK in June 2010, after his father, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was forced out of power following a popular uprising. He is believed to have sought political asylum after arriving at Farnborough airport, Surrey, aboard a private jet.

Kyrgyz authorities accuse Maksim Bakiyev, a former head of the country's Central Agency for Development, of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars of state assets while his father was in power. He has also been accused of fomenting ethnic violence in the south of the country in 2010, which resulted in up to 500 deaths. Mr Bakiyev denies the allegations. He claims the accusations are politically motivated.

The new government in Bishkek claims Britain has failed to co-operate with its requests to extradite Mr Bakiyev to Kyrgyzstan or help trace missing assets. They claim he was allowed to live a luxury lifestyle, buying a multimillion-pound house in central London, despite the fact that Interpol had issued an international arrest warrant for him.

Mr Bakiyev's arrest at the request of Washington is believed to be linked to corruption allegations surrounding the supply of aviation fuel to Manas airport in the former Soviet central Asian Republic. Manas is a key supply airfield for US and Nato military operations in Afghanistan.

US congressional investigators and the FBI are examining Kyrgyz claims that six companies said to be controlled by Mr Bakiyev evaded millions of dollars in excise taxes. They are also examining the details of the fuel contract, worth $730m (£450m), which was awarded to the companies without competitive tendering, under a "no-bid" exemption on the grounds of national security. Critics claim the contract is part of what was described in Congress as the US's "cosy relationship" with Mr Bakiyev and his family, with the apparent aim of ensuring access to Manas airport.

His father fled to Belarus after protesters seized his government's HQ in April 2010. The revolt resulted in as many as 90 people being killed when security forces opened fire on opposition supporters. Belarus has refused repeated requests to extradite the former president to face trial in connection with the killings.

The office of the current Kyrgyz President, Almazbek Atambayev, said that Mr Bakiyev had been arrested "for grave crimes", but gave no details. "Because of the absence of an extradition agreement between the Kyrgyz Republic and Great Britain, the British side is now considering the issue of extraditing Maksim Bakiyev to the United States," it said.

The British embassy in Kyrgyzstan said yesterday that the prosecution of corrupt former Kyrgyz officials could help the goal of ensuring stability in the troubled former Soviet nation. An embassy spokesman said: "The leadership and people of Kyrgyzstan are keen to ensure that those accused of past abuses of power are brought before the courts to answer allegations against them."