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 Thursday, 23 January, 2003, 17:15 GMT
Moscow theatre siege claims rejected
A special forces officer carries a body out of the theatre where hundreds of hostages were being held by Chechen rebels, Moscow
Special forces troops used gas to end the siege
A Moscow court has rejected the compensation claims of six people who were held hostage when Chechen separatists seized a theatre in the city last year.

Everything is clear now - the other complaints will also be struck out

Igor Trunov

Lawyer Igor Trunov, who is representing all the plaintiffs, said after the decision that he now expected the remaining cases to be thrown out.

Sixty-one former hostages had been seeking damages totalling $60m from Moscow city council.

A woman member of the rebel group
All of the hostage-takers were killed

The siege ended after three days when all the hostage-takers were killed during an operation by Russian special forces.

The storming of the theatre led to the deaths of 129 of the 800 hostages, who had gone to the theatre to see the hit Russian musical North-East.

Many died from the effects of a nerve gas used by the troops.

Mr Trunov said: "Everything is clear now. The other complaints will also be struck out. It will only be a formal examination."

The court did not rule on the remaining claims because the plaintiffs had not appeared during the hearings.

'Moral and material damages'

Mr Trunov's case was based on Russia's anti-terrorism law, which states that the Russian region where a terrorist attack occurs should pay "moral and material damages" to the victims.

The city government had criticised the claims saying the federal government - not Moscow - was responsible for the Chechen conflict and its consequences, and that the financial demands were too large.

The Moscow mayor's office has already made one-off small payments of up to $3,000 to victims of the siege.

The Chechen hostage-takers had been demanding an end to the war in their homeland.

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  The BBC's Nikolai Gorshkov
"The Judge declined most of the evidence as irrelevant and threw the case out"

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16 Jan 03 | Europe
16 Dec 02 | Europe
02 Nov 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
24 Oct 02 | Europe
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