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Govt under fire after Australian found guilty on terrorism charges in Kazakhstan
Reporter: Michael Vincent

In October 2001, Noorpolat Abdulla, a 31-year-old Australian citizen, was convicted of preparing a terrorist attack in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, in Central Asia. Denied consular representation, he was sentenced to 15 years in jail by a closed court.

Since his conviction, his family, which maintains the father of two is innocent, have lobbied quietly for his release. Now, they've gone public with their disquiet at the Australian Government's handling of the case. They claim the Government did not do enough to ensure an open and fair hearing and say its left the former Adelaide resident to rot in a prison camp straight out of Stalin's gulag.

This special report from Michael Vincent - click here

Australian Embassy - Consular Access Report
The Australian Embassy in Moscow travelled to Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan and on Thursday 4 April 2004 met with Noorpolat Abdulla in the presence of Colonel Joldasbekov Bauyrzhan Askarovich, the Head of Prison OB-156/14, Semipalitinsk, his deputy and another prison guard. The Colonel advised the Australian Embassy it was not possible to meet Noorpolat alone because of his status as a maximum security prisoner. Both the Colonel and Noorpolat's lawyer in Almaty advised the Vice Consul there had been media interest in Noorpolat's case, and that local TV stations and newspapers had carried some recent reports of his case

Noorpolat enquired about the possibility of transfer to a prison in Almaty and was told that of the few maximum security prisons in Kazakhstan, Semipalitinsk was the closest to Almaty and was the best in terms of conditions for prisoners. Nevertheless, there was a strong possibility Noorpolat could be transferred within the next three months to a new prison for foreign prisoners only, which was close to Almaty.

Noorpolat told the Australian Embassy he had negotiated with the prison authorities to allow him to shower separately from other prisoners on Sundays, as he stated it was against his religion to shower in public. Noorpolat also said there was a mosque in the prison but he is only allowed to use it twice a day, whereas his religion calls for prayer five times per day. On the other occasions, Noorpolat said that he had been obliged to pray by his bed. The Australian Embassy have now secured permission for Noorpolat to pray in an office separate from other prisoners, with a guard present to ensure other prisoners did not interfere with his worship. Noorpolat was reportedly very pleased with this development.

The Australian Embassy was able to deliver a number of items to Noorpolat. These comprised a large blanket, a kettle, 2 books, a Russian/English dictionary, several English language newspapers and magazines, a blank diary, stationery, chocolate, and a packet of dried fruit/nut mix. Items provided by Noorpolat's father comprised 5000 Tenge, shoes, clothing, dried fruits/nuts and cured Halal meats. Unfortunately, the two books and family photographs did not arrive in Moscow before the Australian Embassy had left for Kazakhstan. The Embassy will arrange for these to be onforwarded to Noorpolat in the near future.

Food

All fruit and vegetables for the prison are provided by the same company that supplies all the restaurants in Semipalitinsk. Water analysis is carried out by the city Prosecutors Office and Epidemiology Control Centre two to three times per month. According to the Head of the Prison, the water pipes are regularly flushed and tap water is safe to drink. Noorpolat stated that the prison menu is limited and does not meet his dietary needs, as his religion prevents from eating pork which constitutes a regular part of the prison diet. He has refused to eat in the food hall with the other prisoners and takes his meals and eats them back in his dormitory. The prison officials have arranged for a prison guard to purchase and deliver fruit for Noorpolat who confirmed he had received Halal food parcels from his father.

Contact & Account Details

Mr. N. Abdulla Republic of Kazakhstan, 490047, Semipalatinsk, Stalskogo Str., 2 Prison OV 156/14

Prison account details: RNN 511700023947 Deposit Acc. 000144227

Money

Noorpolat also has a prison bank account, into which deposits may be made for his use at the Prison canteen to purchase personal hygiene items, extra foodstuffs, stamps and envelopes. We understand that it is possible to send funds from Australia for deposit to this account.

Mail and supplies
Noorpolat is allowed to receive mail and food items from his family. No particular limits are stipulated, other than the overall weight factor of 50 Kilograms. See attachment 1 & 2 Rules of the Prison.

Telephone
Noorpolat is allowed four telephone calls of 15 minutes each per year, but telephone privileges are subject to good behaviour on the part of prisoners, and the availability of funds. A recent request by Noorpolat to make a telephone call had not been granted due to the fact that there were no funds in his prison account at the time.

Work
Prisoners have the option to work at making felt winter boots and receive payment that enables them to purchase reasonable quantities of items at the prison shop. Noorpolat told the Vice Consul that he preferred not to work on the grounds that there was a practice in the prison in which those prisoners who elect to work are sometimes ostracised by some non- working prisoners. Noorpolat said he did not wish to get involved in this kind of prison politics.

Health
In regard to Noorpolat's health, he said that he was still having problems with asthma and maintains this has never been diagnosed by a doctor. He complained of a nagging cough which he claimed was exacerbated by passive smoking. The Australian Embassy advised him that according to the advice they had received from the Kazakh Foreign Ministry in Almaty, a medical examination would be granted, if he requested it.

Visitation
Noorpolat confirmed that his father had visited him in Semipalitinsk and had stayed overnight in the separate visitors quarters at the prison.

Court Appeal
Noorpolat was unaware that the Supreme Court appeal had been heard and was, naturally, disappointed to learn it had not been successful. Noorpolat has completed a letter of clemency which the prison Colonel undertook to have translated into Russian for on forwarding to the President of Kazakhstan

Prison Inspection
The Australian Embassy has reported that the prison is similar in terms of facilities to maximum security prisons in Australia, with the notable exception of sleeping arrangements, as Noorpolat shares a dormitory with 100 other prisoners. The prison has a TV room, and English language news is broadcast at 4 p.m. every Sunday. The prison was generally clean, and some photographs were taken.

The family highlighted concerns about the risk of radiation in the area around Semipalatinsk, the Australian Embassy took some readings from a personal Geiger counter and obtained some samples of water from the prison for testing. According to the Science Section at the British Embassy in Almaty, all Geiger counter readings were within normal limits. The Australian Embassy in Moscow will arrange for the water samples to be tested. In addition, the Embassy will arrange for an English language dictionary to be sent to Noorpolat

Photographs
Colonel Joldasbekov Bauyrzhan Askarovich, the Head of Prison OB- 156/14, Semipalitinsk, kindly approved the taking of photographs by Australian Embassy staff.
"Inner Buildings", the darker grey building towards the back of the left side of photo is Noorpolat's dormitory/sleeping quarters (upstairs). The Embassy was unable to take photographs inside, or near this building.
"Colonel and Guard", the guard on the right side of the photo is Noorpolat's head of dormitory, and is the officer that will be purchasing fresh fruits and allowing Noorpolat use of his office for prayer. The mural behind was done by the prisoners, and is something of which they are particularly proud.
Exercise Yard
Mosque in the Prison where prisoners may go to pray.
Colonel Joldasbekov Bauyrzhan Askarovich, [right] the Head of Prison OB-156/14, Semipalitinsk, with Australian Embassy staff [left].
Noorpolat Abdulla [2002]
Contact Information
If you would like to show your support to the Abdulla Family please contact :

Mr. John Judge
Consular Operations Section
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R.G. Casey Building, John McEwen Crescent,
Barton, ACT, 0221 Australia
Tel: +61 2 6261 1111 Fax: +61 2 6261 3111
Email: john.judge@dfat.gov.au

Consular Duty Officer:+61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 toll free (within Australia only)
Media enquiries: +61 2 6261 1555. After Hours 0418 623 327

Australian Embassy, Russia
10A/2 Podkolokolny Pereulok
Moscow 109028
Russia
Telephone-(7-095 or 503) 956 6070
Fax 7-095 or 503) 956 6170
Website- http://www.australianembassy.ru

Foreign Prisoner Support Services
http://www.foreignprisoners.com

Kay Danes Advocate for the Abdulla Family
Email: kaydanes@foreignprisoners.com

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