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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 13:10 GMT
Russia tries Chechen warlord
Freed Russian hostages in Buddionovsk in 1995
Russia was shocked by a series of hostage takings in the 1990s
By Steve Rosenberg in Moscow

The trial of a Chechen warlord, Salman Raduyev, has opened in the southern Russian town of Makhachkala.

Raduyev led an armed raid on the town of Kizlyar nearly six years ago which left more than 70 people dead.

Salman Raduyev looked relaxed as he was led into court.

Salman Raduyev in the 1990s.
Salman Raduyev was on the list of most wanted

He smiled to the crowd of journalists packing the room - an act of defiance for the man dubbed by the authorities here as one of the most dangerous men in Russia.

Outside the courthouse tension was high. Crack troops patrolled the streets, snipers took up position on rooftops.

Raduyev faces a total of 10 charges including murder, terrorism and hostage taking.

Most relate to the raid on Kizlyar, a town in Dagestan which came under attack from a group of more than 300 Chechen fighters led by Salman Raduyev.

More than 2,000 people were taken hostage inside a local hospital, and 78 were killed.

Moscow says it is treating this case with the utmost importance.

Russian TV has shown pictures of the man they say is Salman Raduyev
Raduyev's face has changed since 1996

The prosecution team is being led by Russia's prosecutor-general, Vladimir Ustinov - it's the first time in modern Russian history that the country's chief prosecutor has personally handled the case in court.

The trial, though, will not be quick.

The case against Mr Raduyev and three alleged accomplices fills well over 100 volumes.

It could take months to reach a verdict.

See also:

14 Mar 00 | Europe
Chechen warlord on murder charge
16 Mar 00 | Europe
Chechen warlord captured
23 Mar 00 | Europe
Has Putin won the war?
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