Danish police detain Chechen aide on suspicion of terror

Thursday, October 31, 2002

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- A top aide to Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov was arrested by Danish authorities Wednesday and Russia sought his handover, saying he may have been involved in the Moscow hostage siege and other terror attacks.

Akhmed Zakayev, 43, was detained Tuesday evening after a Chechen Congress concluded in the Danish capital, Copenhagen. Danish authorities acted after Russia requested Zakayev's extradition.

"Zakayev is suspected of a series of terror attacks during the period 1996-1999 and is suspected of taking part in the planning of the hostage-taking crisis in Moscow," a Danish police statement said.

The Kremlin had been angered by Denmark's hosting of the Chechen congress, which gathered rebels and opponents of the war in the breakaway province. Russia said the conference was organized by terrorists, but Denmark had insisted it would do nothing without proof.

A judge on Wednesday ordered Zakayev jailed until Nov. 12 pending an investigation. The two-hour hearing was closed to the public at the prosecutor's request and was held amid tight security.

Zakayev had not yet decided whether to appeal, said his lawyer, Ervin Birk Nielsen.

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