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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 11:15 GMT
Russia says Chechen was not beaten
Raduyev
Raduyev needed plastic surgery after war injuries
The Russian authorities say no violence was used against the prominent Chechen separatist rebel commander, Salman Raduyev, who died in prison on Sunday.

Deputy Justice Minister Yuri Kalinin denied Russian media reports that Raduyev had been beaten to death.

Nobody touched him, not a finger was laid on him

Deputy Justice Minister Yuri Kalinin
He said the commander died of internal bleeding which might have been caused by the many medical complaints he suffered from.

Raduyev was sentenced to life imprisonment for multiple murders and terrorism in December 2001.

Chechen accusations

Earlier, the authorities said Raduyev, who was Muslim, had become weaker during the fasting period of Ramadan which ended 10 days ago.

But Chechnya's separatist presidency has accused the Russian authorities of killing Raduyev.

"The moratorium on the death penalty does not exist for Chechens," a spokesman for the presidency told the French news agency AFP.

Raduyev's body will not be returned to his family because of a new Russian law barring the release of bodies of people convicted of terrorism.

He became the first prominent Chechen rebel warlord to be prosecuted by the Russian authorities.

Chechen guerrilla
Raduyev led one of the most powerful rebel groups

Raduyev, 35, was given a life sentence last December for leading an infamous raid on the southern Russian republic of Dagestan in 1996, taking hundreds of people hostage at a hospital and using some as human shields.

A total of 78 people were killed in the attack.

He was captured by Russian forces in Chechnya in March 2000, and tried in court in Dagestan.

He was serving his sentence in penal colony Number 14 at Solikamsk, near Perm, in the Ural mountains.

Ruthless

During the Chechen war of 1994-1996, Raduyev controlled one of the most powerful rebel groups in the breakaway Russian republic.

But it was his daring raid on the hospital in the town of Kizlyar which earned him a reputation for unusual ruthlessness.

Raduyev said he was taking orders from his father-in-law, the late Chechen President, Dzhokhar Dudayev, who was killed by a Russian missile in 1996.

Raduyev's unit fled Kizlyar with about 150 hostages and fought their way through Russian troops to escape back to Chechnya.

Back from the dead

In March 1996, Raduyev was shot in the head in an assassination attempt and reported dead.

However, he reappeared four months later after treatment abroad, becoming a bitter opponent of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov.

In 1999, Raduyev underwent major surgery to reconstruct his face, having first signed an agreement promising not to take revenge on the surgeons if the operation proved unsuccessful.

His death comes as Akhmed Zakayev, the deputy prime minister in the ousted Chechen government, faces proceedings in London to extradite him to Russia to face charges of murder and waging war.

See also:

15 Dec 02 | Europe
24 Oct 02 | Europe
28 Sep 01 | Europe
06 Sep 01 | Europe
29 Oct 02 | Europe
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