Austria still hoping for Moscow's help in dissident murder

25th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Vienna court trying three men over the murder of Chechen dissident Umar Israilov said Friday it had asked Russia for assistance in the case and hoped to receive an answer by the end of May.

"Since the Justice Ministry conveyed our request (for assistance) on January 24, we have received no information from the general prosecutors in Moscow," Judge Friedrich Forsthuber told a hearing Friday.

Nevertheless, the court hoped to receive an answer "by the end of May," Forsthuber said.

If it did not, "we will assume that no response will be forthcoming and we will conclude the trial" without Moscow's help, the judge said.

He adjourned the hearing until May 24.

The court has requested Moscow's help in interviewing Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is suspected of having ordered the crime.

An Austrian police report last year concluded that Kadyrov had ordered the kidnapping of Israilov, who was then shot dead on a Vienna street in January 2009, as he tried to flee.

Prosecutors, too, believe that Kadyrov ordered 27-year-old Israilov to be kidnapped with the explicit proviso he be killed if he resisted.

Nevertheless, at the start of the trial in November, the prosecutors conceded there was not sufficient evidence to prove the Chechen president's involvement.

Three men -- Turpal Ali Yesherkayev, Suleiman Dadayev and Otto Kaltenbrunner -- are currently on trial tried for complicity to murder, associating with criminals, and attempted delivery of an individual to a foreign power, and face possible life sentences.

The man believed to have pulled the trigger, Lecha Bogatirov, is still on the run.

© 2011 AFP

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