Polish court drops Chechen extradition case: report

23rd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Polish court on Thursday decided not to pursue a Russian extradition request for exiled Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev, Poland's news agency PAP reported.

PAP said the Warsaw regional court ruled that proceedings should be halted because Zakayev, who was detained briefly in Poland in September, was no longer in the country.

Moscow wants Zakayev to answer charges of terrorism, but he has flatly denied any link to Chechen rebel attacks in Russia.

Zakayev, who has political refugee status in Britain, was detained in Poland on a Russian extradition warrant on September 17 when he arrived in Warsaw for a congress of Chechen exiles.

He opted to travel to Poland even though Warsaw had warned that he risked arrest.

He was released after several hours and allowed to return to Britain, without having to provide any legal guarantee that he would come back to Poland for further legal proceedings.

On October 19, Russia issued a fresh international arrest warrant for Zakayev.

Zakayev was the European representative of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, who died fighting Russian forces in 2005, and went on to become "foreign minister" in Chechnya's unrecognised government-in-exile.

Moscow has fought two devastating, full-blown wars with separatists in Muslim-majority Chechnya since 1994.

It is now battling an Islamist-fuelled insurgency there and in the neighbouring Caucasus regions of Dagestan and Ingushetia.

© 2010 AFP

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