Engineers were starved, beaten and decapitated, inquest told

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The Independent Online

Four engineers were starved of food and water, repeatedly beaten with gun butts and decapitated with a large knife after being kidnapped by an armed gang while working in Chechnya, an inquest heard today.

Four engineers were starved of food and water, repeatedly beaten with gun butts and decapitated with a large knife after being kidnapped by an armed gang while working in Chechnya, an inquest heard today.

Darren Hickey, 26, Rudolf Petschi, 42, Peter Kennedy, 46, and Stanley Shaw, 58, were abducted from a house near Grozny where they had been working to install a telecommunication system.

Relatives of the dead men wept as details of their horrific injuries were revealed at Westminster Coroner's Court.

Two of the men, both "wasting away", showed evidence of being tied up before they were beaten unconscious and their heads cut off from behind with a large blade, Home Office pathologist Dr Iain West told the hearing.

The inquest was told how authorities in Chechnya launched a massive investigation after the four engineers, three working for Surrey-based Granger Telecom and one for British Telecom, were seized in the early hours of the morning on October 3 last year.

Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Dixon, of the Metropolitan Police, said more than 60 hostages were released as Chechen officials launched armed raids on the homes of suspected kidnappers.

But Mr Dixon said the four men were not discovered until their heads were found on December 8.

Mr Dixon said that Mr Kennedy of Rusland Avenue, Orpington, Kent, Mr Petschi of Nightingale Lawns, Cullompton, Devon, Mr Shaw, of Woodham Lane, Addlestone, Surrey, and Mr Hickey of Summer Road, Thames Ditton, Surrey, had been under armed guard at a secure house on the outskirts of Grozny.

"Some time between 3am and 3.30am on Saturday October 3 it would appear the house was raided by a group of armed men, the exact number is unknown.

"They were sufficient however to overpower the guards and kidnap the four engineers."

Dr West said examination of the bodies showed all the men had been extremely malnourished.

One of them, Mr Petschi, had suffered particularly horrific injuries, the inquest was told.

"In essence this man had been held, deprived of food, beaten up then subsequently struck on the head probably with a gun butt, and his body then decapitated," Dr West said.

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