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Wednesday, 7 August, 2002, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Chechen held over Britons' beheading
Coffin of one victim is carried away
The men's bodies were dumped beside a road
A Chechen fighter suspected of involvement in the brutal killing of three British men and a New Zealander has been arrested, Russian military officials have announced.

The four foreigners were kidnapped in the Chechen capital, Grozny, in October 1998, before being beheaded.

The suspect, named as Khusein Idiyev, was arrested on suspicion of complicity in their murders, Colonel Ilya Shabalkin told Russian television.

The four hostages who died
The workers included three Britons and a New Zealander
He said they were also accused of masterminding the abduction and murder of Russian servicemen.

The BBC's Nikolai Gorshkov in Moscow says Khusein Idiyev was chief of staff under one of the most feared Chechen warlords, Arbi Barayev, notorious for his cruelty towards his captives.

Barayev himself was killed by the Russian special forces last year.

The Britons, Darren Hickey, Rudi Petschi, Peter Kennedy, and New Zealander Stan Shaw were kidnapped in October 1998 while installing a telephone system in Chechnya.

The beheaded bodies of the men were found two months later, with speculation rife they had been killed as an act of defiance after a failed rescue attempt.

They men had been seized from their home in Grozny, just a few hundred metres from Chechnya's special anti-hostage task force.

Bin Laden claim

Last year, a Chechen witness told the BBC that the engineers were killed at the request of Osama Bin Laden as part of his holy war against the West.

Khusein Idiyev, born in 1966, was detained on Tuesday in the Naurskiy district of Chechnya. Russian media reports say he has confirmed to officials that he was a member of Barayev's group.

"Work is under way to gather and give procedural form to evidence of Idiyev's criminal activity," said Colonel Shabalkin.


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29 Jul 02 | Europe
29 Jul 02 | Europe
11 Jan 01 | Europe
08 Dec 98 | Europe
06 Sep 01 | Europe
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