Chechen leader 'not involved' in Vienna murder: lawyer
The lawyer of Chechnya's controversial leader Ramzan Kadyrov on Thursday denied allegations he was involved in the Vienna murder of a Chechen dissident, after three men were found guilty of the crime.
A Vienna court on Wednesday convicted three ethnic Chechen men of involvement in the 2009 murder of Umar Israilov, a militant turned security guard of Kadyrov who fled the war-torn Russian region to Austria in 2004.
He became a key witness in a torture case and said in a 2008 interview with The New York Times that he had witnessed Kadyrov and his men torture opponents first-hand in "unofficial" prisons.
"All statements that Kadyrov is involved in the murder of Israilov are unfounded. They are spread in the West by anti-Russian types," Kadyrov's lawyer Andrei Krasnenkov told the Interfax news agency.
"Besides insinuations generated by anti-Russian circles, no facts were presented proving Kadyrov's participation in Israilov's murder," he said.
The prosecution believes Kadyrov ordered the murder in order to eliminate Israilov as a witness against Kadyrov in the International Court of Human Rights as part of a case Israilov filed in 2006.
They also believe Kadyrov ordered that Israilov be kidnapped with the explicit instruction that he be killed if he resisted.
But Kadyrov refused to testify in the case in 2010 and Moscow has refused to answer a request from the court for help in interviewing the Chechen leader.
After Russia fought two wars with Chechnya, much of the violence has spilled in recent years to the neighbouring republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan.
However rights group Memorial recently said violence is still rampant in the republic ruled by Kadyrov and that people are frequently snatched from their homes by local police never to be seen again.
© 2011 AFP