Renato Cortese and the Shalabayeva case, when justice is short-circuited

The appeal process against the policemen involved in the affair of Alma Shalabayeva, the wife of the Kazakh fugitive, Mukhtar Ablyazov, branded by the courts of London as a forger and thief of a billionaire loot, opens on January 17 in Perugia, who escaped abroad precisely for not to end up in British prisons and on the run for over a decade from Kazakhstan, where he was convicted on charges of stealing state funds for colossal amounts: about six billion dollars.


The sentence of the court of Perugia which condemned six policemen and a justice of the peace last January for the disputed expulsion of the rich Mrs. Shalabayeva, for which a political storm broke out in 2013, it is based on a reconstruction of the facts which, according to the checks carried out by L’Espresso, is very incomplete. And it appears disproved by foreign documents and verdicts which Italian magistrates seem to have ignored the existence. At the center of the case, however, there are policemen who have always done their job well as leaders of the State Police, men like the then head of the Rome Mobile Squad, Renato Cortese, who is a general manager of the police and in his long career has brought dangerous fugitives from Cosa Nostra to prison such as Bernardo Provenzano, Pietro Aglieri, Giovanni Brusca, Salvatore Grigoli and Vito Vitale, just to name a few, and then boss of the ‘Ndrangheta, but even the “white-collar workers”, colluding magistrates and men of the police forces corrupted by the Sicilian and Calabrian mafia, to the point of revealing and blocking the clans of Rome and the Lazio coast.

The case

Political persecuted? No, thief of billions. The English sentences that rewrite the history of the Shalabayeva kidnapping

Another good policeman ended up on the dock with Cortese, Maurizio Improta, former Chief of Police of Rimini and at the time of the events manager of the Immigration Office in Rome. The first instance sentence is five years. Five other men who participated in the search of Shalabayeva’s house, on the outskirts of the capital, were also sentenced to search for the fugitive Ablyazov, pursued internationally. The man in 2013 was not a political refugee, while the woman, who presented herself to the agents showing a diplomatic passport from the Central African Republic which was later found to be false, continued for two days to claim to be called by a name other than hers, not only he had never formalized the request for political asylum, but he did not even have a residence permit.

We need to take a step back and review what happened at the time.

On the afternoon of May 28, 2013, around three in the afternoon, Cortese on the recommendation of the Rome commissioner, Della Rocca, receives some Kazakh diplomats, who declared that in Rome, in a villa in Casal Palocco, a dangerous Kazakh fugitive was taking refuge: Ablyazov Mukhtar.. The man was indicated as being contiguous to terrorist circles “capable of carrying out a possible attack in Rome”. The diplomats informed Cortese that the wanted man could be in the company of people capable of using weapons. The Kazakh diplomats, as emerges from the documents, did not show any interest in the position of Ablyazov’s wife, nor did they mention the possibility that his daughter, little Alua, was also in the villa: the note delivered by the Kazakhs to the police ends with the provision that: «in the event of arrest, the request for extraction through diplomatic channels will be presented to the Ministry of Justice of the Italian Republic shortly», a hypothesis that could only concern Ablyazov.

The intervention of the Rome mobile squad was therefore required exclusively to capture a fugitive who was considered “highly dangerous at international level”. And Cortese for much of his police career is a specialist in arresting fugitives. And he has always implemented the same procedure that the law allows him to do.

Before starting the search for Ablyazov, Cortese immediately proceeds to verify, through the official channels inside the State Police, if what the Kazakhs told about the fugitive’s state of inaction correspond to the truth.

The head of the mobile squad updates the commissioner, contacts Lamberto Giannini, then head of the Digos and today head of the police. For the verification of the subversive profiles of the affair, he contacts Gennaro Capoluongo, director of the First General Affairs Division of the International Police Cooperation Service and receives the official Interpol note showing that Ablyazov was really wanted in the international field.

Only from this moment, and therefore only after receiving confirmation from the channels of the Police Department, Renato Cortese organizes together with Lamberto Giannini the group of men, belonging to the respective departments, for the search on May 28, 2013 at the home of Mukhtar Ablyazov. Cortese does not participate in the search and will never meet Alma Shalabayeva.

The next day the head of the Mobile is informed that the control did not lead to the arrest of the fugitive while the Digos is reported to have accompanied two undocumented people to the immigration office to stay in Italy and one of these could be the fugitive’s wife. All the acts concerning the woman are carried out by Digos: Cortese’s activity is therefore finished.

The Flying Squad had no competence in matters of detention and expulsion and could not in any way have verified whether there were the conditions for the application of the discipline provided for by the consolidated act on immigration.

Except that the woman was being sued for her false document through which she called herself Alma Ayan. Among other things, the woman did not have any residence permit in Italy.

The real point of the matter is that until the end of this story Alma Shalabayeva reiterated that she was Alma Ayan and tried in every way to protect the African identity. Reading the information it is clear that the Flying Squad reported all the data acquired regarding the figure of Alma Shalabayeva and, without offering any deductions or easy conclusions, highlighted the inconsistency with the statements of those who insisted on being Alma Ayan.

It seems incredible that the sentence of the court of Perugia completely fails to consider the fact that, regardless of the elements collected by the Police Headquarters, when the woman continued to declare that she was another person without a valid supporting document, she asked to obtain the conditions for the application of the rules of the criminal code and the consolidated immigration law. And we cannot think that it was Cortese who misled the magistrates of Rome who issued the nulla osta for the expulsion of Shalabayeva, because his notes to the prosecutors are correct. But even in this case the prosecutors, cited by the defense, were not admitted to the courtroom.

The sentence proceeds in its deductions without taking into account the procedural evidence that emerged during the trial, such as the fact that contrary to what the judges write, there was no “blind obedience of the Italian state to the Kazakh one”. The facts have shown that it is “an imaginative reasoning” elaborated in the sentence. In the absence of facts and evidence, it is not clear who Cortese would have obeyed and why he would have committed such a serious and infamous crime.

The reality is that this chief executive of the state police has done only and only his duty, within the scope of the law, which was the one used to search for a fugitive, as it had done dozens of times in the past, and therefore the reporting to the magistrates of a woman who presented herself with a false diplomatic document.

The police report states that it was “grossly forged”, with four pages replaced, missing stamps and even “spelling errors in English and French”. Then the Rome Public Prosecutor’s Office grants the nulla osta for expulsion. Still on May 31, until the end of the validation hearing, Alma continues to claim to be Ayan. Only at the last moment her Italian lawyers declare that she is the wife of the dissident Ablyazov, begging not to send her to Kazakhstan. And they show for the first time a document that the court considers “decisive”: a certificate of authenticity, signed the day before by the Central African ambassador to Switzerland. He certifies that Alma has “a cover passport”, like her husband: a true document, but with false generalities, issued “for security reasons”. And to confirm this, in June 2013, is also “a letter from the Central African Ministry of Justice”.


The Umbrian ruling does not indicate that it was sent “from a public booth”, as the documents in the possession of L’Espresso show. Nor does it record that in those months the Central African Republic was torn apart by a bloody civil war. With a dictator deposed, in March 2013, by a military coup. So the diplomatic passport, issued by a regime en route, is confirmed by a coup minister. How did Ablyazov get those secret agent passports in one of the poorest nations in the world? In Perugia no one asks: only the English sentences offer an idea, speaking of “uranium trade in Africa”.

The judges, referring to Kazakhstan, do not even take into account the statements made in the courtroom by the former Chief of Police Alessandro Pansa who explained that in May 2013, there were no dangers in that country because there were no negative reports from bodies such as the ‘UNHCR, the UN Refugee Committee.

Kazakhstan is a country belonging to the network of 191 Interpol countries. As the commissioner Della Rocca recalled, “the Kazakh ambassador was a person of some importance because the country is part of the Interpol circuit and therefore any request coming from this country was as valid for us as any other nation in the world”.

It is therefore quite clear that the Italian state did not suffer any pressure from the Kazakhs and “no particular interest was needed in complying with its requests”, if not the manifestation of an institutional willingness to help another country to capture a his fugitive.

And Cortese had no interest in taking Alma Shalabayeva hostage.

As Professor Giovanni Fiandaca wrote on the Foglio, this trial of Cortese and Improta is “another controversial case, also characterized by an (almost) doubling of the prison sentence imposed by the court (five years) compared to that required by the prosecution (two years and a few months) ». According to Fiandaca “beyond the sanctioning rigor, in this case the conditions, both in fact and in law, that led to the issuance of a conviction by way of kidnapping (moreover, with the addition of hypotheses of ideological falsity) “. It is therefore a judicial history to be reviewed.

To date, the only observation that can be made, based on documents and evidence, is that a group of valid police officers hunting for a dangerous fugitive, for having carried out exactly the procedures that the agents know well, have been convicted of kidnapping. . The kidnapping of the same person who went around Rome under a false identity and with a bogus diplomatic passport.


Source: L'Espresso – News, inchieste e approfondimenti Espresso by espresso.repubblica.it.

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