x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Accused in Chechen warlord shooting to learn fate in April

Verdicts in the case of two men allegedly involved in the assassination of Sulim Yamadayev, the former Chechen warlord, are due next month.

DUBAI // Verdicts in the case of two men allegedly involved in the assassination of Sulim Yamadayev, the former Chechen warlord, are due next month. MH, 37, an Iranian horse groomer for the Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, and MJ, a Tajik national, are accused of aiding and abetting a premeditated murder as well as possessing an unlicensed weapon.

Yamadayev was shot dead in the basement car park of his home at Jumeirah Beach Residence on March 28, 2009. Judges at Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance said yesterday that they would deliver their verdicts on April 12, after hearing arguments from defence lawyers that their clients had no involvement in the murder. Ibrahim al Qasim and Obaid Ali Obaid, defending MH and MJ, told the court that Yamadayev's murder was the result of a "game between big players in Chechnya".

Mr Obaid said Yamadayev was the victim of a power battle between two Chechen families. Mr al Qasim yesterday tried to cast doubt on the accounts of witnesses questioned by police, which he said had identified three different people carrying three different guns. He said the witnesses - including one of Yamadayev's body guards - described the different body types of the men they saw carrying weapons in the car park after two gun shots were heard.

He also said one witness had said the gun was grey while another had said it was black. Mr al Qasim told the court that a ballistics analysis of the gun said to have been used in the assassination had proved inconclusive. MH is alleged to have played a role in supplying the gun used to kill Yamadayev, while a hand-drawn map of the car park was found in MJ's flat. Mr Obaid argued that prosecutors had not presented in court the most important witnesses in the case, including Yamadayev's body guards who were with him on the day. "They were not presented for testimony before prosecutors or in court, they were not even brought in as potential suspects which raises a lot of questions there," he said.

Yamadayev had commanded the elite Vostok battalion in Chechnya, and was said to have been a rebel fighter who switched sides to fight for the Russians. Dubai Police have said the former warlord survived multiple attempts on his life before he moved to Dubai. He had apparently been living in the city with his wife and six children and was reported to have "retired" and moved to Dubai early in 2009.

Prosecutors have claimed that the Russian MP and former deputy prime minister of Chechnya, Adam Delimkhanov, provided the so-called "golden gun" used to assassinate the warlord and had been heard to say Mr Yamadayev "must die".  Mr Delimkhanov is alleged to have handed a bag containing the gold-plated 9mm Stechkin APS pistol to a Russian man who carried out the assassination. Seven Interpol red notices - requests for arrest with a view to extradition - have been issued by Dubai Police for the remaining suspects, including Mr Delimkhanov, who are outside the country.

@Email:amustafa@thenational.ae