Danish police detain senior Chechen rebel envoy

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The Independent Online

A Chechen rebel envoy, Akhmed Zakayev, was detained in Copenhagen after Russian authorities informed Danish police that he was suspected of "a series of terror attacks," including involvement in last week's hostage crisis, police said Wednesday.

Zakayev was held yesterday evening after the end of a two-day World Chechen Congress in the Danish capital that had drawn sharp criticism from the Russian government after Chechen gunmen stormed a Moscow theatre and held hundreds of people hostage for 58 hours.

Danish police said the action was taken after they received an extradition request from Moscow.

Zakayev is a senior representative of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov.

"Zakayev is suspected for 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," Danish police said in a statement.

The siege in Moscow ended with more than 100 deaths.

The information received by the Copenhagen police via Interpol pointed at "Zakayev was suspected of serious crimes," according to the statement.

Zakayev was to face a judge Wednesday morning to decide whether he should be jailed while police investigate. More details were not immediately available.

Russian forces retreated from the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya after a 1994-1996 war that left separatists led by Maskhadov in charge. Putin sent troops back in 1999 after rebel attacks on a neighboring region and after deadly apartment-building bombings blamed on the rebels.