Austria undecided on charging Kadyrov in Chechen killing

25th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Austrian prosecutors said Wednesday they had not yet decided whether to press charges against Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov over the killing of one of his outspoken critics last year.

Nevertheless, the prosecutors confirmed that three men would be indicted with the murder of Umar Israilov -- a former member of Kadyrov's security forces who had defected and sought asylum in Austria -- who was gunned down near his Vienna flat on January 13, 2009.

"With regard to Kadyrov, no decision has been made yet," a spokesman for the prosecutors Thomas Vecsey told AFP.

But Vecsey confirmed that three men, currently held in pre-trial custody in Austria, would be indicted.

According to a report by Vienna's security and counter-terrorism bureau LVT in April, Kadyrov is suspected of being behind the murder.

"He is the one who gave the order," the LVT said at the time, adding that the shooting was probably not contract killing, but a botched kidnapping attempt.

Kadyrov, 33, has repeatedly denied any involvement in Israilov's murder.

He has also been accused by his opponents of involvement in the killings of critics in the United Arab Emirates and in Moscow but has similarly always vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

The pro-Kremlin Chechen strongman has also been accused by human rights groups of using torture and his own personal security forces to crack down on critics in his half-decade in power in the turbulent Caucasus region.

Most notably he was accused by the head of Russia's leading human rights group Memorial of being responsible for the murder of one of its most senior activists, Natalya Estemirova, in July last year.

© 2010 AFP

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