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Last Updated: Friday, 20 June, 2003, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Chechen jailed over theatre siege
siege
Most hostages died of gas poisoning
A Russian court has convicted a Chechen man on charges of assisting the hostage-taking raid by Chechen rebels on a Moscow theatre last October.

Zairbek Talkhigov was found guilty of informing the gunmen about the movement of special forces near the theatre, and sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison.

Talkhigov had pleaded not guilty, saying he wanted to help free the hostages.

Chechen guerrillas held 800 people during a musical performance - all 41 gunmen and 129 hostages died when special forces stormed the theatre three days later.

Talkhidov said he had learned the phone number of the hostage-takers' leader from a member of the Russian parliament, and wanted to assist the rescue operation.

He said he had given the hostage-takers information about the troops' location in order to win their confidence.

Questions

During the trial, the judge ordered the erasing of Talkhigov's conversations with the hostage-takers.

As a result, some commentators questioned the fairness of the trial.

Talkhigov's lawyer accused the Russian security services of destroying all written statements taken from his client in the days following his arrest in October.

"The Moscow city court was unable to fully study all the evidence," the lawyer said.

During the trial the chief prosecutor said the Chechen warlord believed to be behind the hostage-taking, Shamil Basayev, had also been planning a series of attacks in Moscow - including the seizure of the lower house of parliament.




SEE ALSO:
Musical is reborn in siege theatre
12 Feb 03  |  Entertainment
Theatre honours hostage victims
10 Nov 02  |  Europe
How special forces ended siege
29 Oct 02  |  Europe


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