Polish prosecutor appeals release of Chechen leader
Prosecutors in Poland have appealed the release of Chechen independence leader Akhmed Zakayev after his arrest last week in Warsaw on a Russian warrant, a prosecutor's spokeswoman said Thursday.
The appeal came after a Warsaw court ruling releasing Zakayev and even allowing him to leave Poland without a legal guarantee that he return.
The political refugee status which Mr. Zakayev has in Britain "does not protect him against possible extradition", Monika Lewandowska, spokeswoman for the Warsaw prosecutor's office, told AFP Thursday.
Zakayev, wanted by Russia for alleged terrorism, was detained Friday by Polish police in Warsaw while attending a three-day congress of some 300 exiles from conflict-torn Chechnya.
After the Warsaw court ruled to release him, Zakayev travelled back to Britain. He is, however, due to return to Poland to face possible legal proceedings.
Speaking in London on Wednesday, Zakayev confirmed his travel visa to Poland had expired and he had discussed getting a new one with Polish embassy officials in London on Tuesday.
He said it was an "absolute surprise" that he was arrested the following day, given that he had been in Poland several times in August.
Zakayev insisted there was nothing new in Russia's case against him. The Polish government "could have ignored the request", he added.
But he said he understood that Warsaw was trying to rebuild its ties with its giant neighbour.
"I think I have become just another victim of the political games that both Polish and Russian governments have been playing," he said.
Moscow has fought two full-blown wars in Chechnya since 1994 and is now fighting a radical Islamist-fuelled insurgency in the North Caucasus regions of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia that has claimed scores of lives.
© 2010 AFP