x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Suspected Dubai assassin still free in Russia

Doctors release man wanted by Interpol for 2009 Dubai execution.

DUBAI //A suspect in the assassination of former Chechen warlord Sulim Yamadayev spent a brief period in a Moscow hospital yesterday after accidentally shooting himself.

Zelimkhan Mazayev, 31, was named as one of seven suspects in the March 2009 execution of Yamadayev in a basement car park at Jumeirah Beach Residences in Dubai.

At the time, police issued seven Interpol red warrants - requests for arrest with a view to extradition - for suspects in the case.

A source in Moscow said that Mr Mazayev was taken to hospital after he accidentally shot himself in his hip with a gun loaded with rubber bullets. He was released later, despite being identified by doctors as a suspect on the Interpol most-wanted list.

The online newspaper Gazeta.ru quoted Yelena Alekseyeva, a spokeswoman for the Moscow police, as saying: "Mazayev is not on Russia's wanted list. Therefore we have no reasons to detain him."

Police in Moscow were unable to confirm the shooting.

Dubai Police Chief, Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, said they had not been contacted by the Russian authorities regarding Mr Mazayev. "But if it proves that this person is wanted by us, we would like the Russian authorities to either try him in Russia or extradite him to us," he said. "If it proves that he is the person listed by Interpol and the Russian authorities do not arrest him it would be a sign on non-cooperation. It would be considered an act of supporting criminals and organised crime," he added.

According to the Russian Constitution: "A citizen of the Russian Federation may not be deported from Russia or extradited."

A source at the Russian Consulate said that because Russia was marking the Defenders of the Fatherland public holiday today, Andrew Andreev, the Russian ambassador to the UAE, was not available for comment.

Yamadayev, a Chechen separatist who switched sides to become a battalion commander for the Russians, was said to have "retired" and moved to Dubai in early 2009. He had previously commanded the elite Vostok battalion in Chechnya.

Dubai Police said the former warlord had survived 19 attempts on his life before he moved to Dubai.

Two men were arrested and tried in connection with the assassination. MH, an Iranian who was formerly a horse groom for the Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, and MJ, a Tajik. Both were found guilty of aiding and abetting a premeditated murder as well as possessing an unlicensed weapon. After obtaining a pardon from Yamadayev's family, their life sentences were reduced to three years.

During the trial, a police first lieutenant told prosecutors from the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance that MJ admitted to agreeing to take part in the plot when he was offered US$100,000 (Dh367,000) by two men named Salman and Tirpal Kimayev.

MJ told officers that he was ordered by Salman to rent a car for the purpose of following Yamadayev, 35. A few days later, MJ said, he was introduced to two people, including Mr Mazayev.

MJ told officers that, on the day of the murder, he and Salman spent hours staking out Yamadayev's flat.

The pair went to a cafe in the complex and, while they were there, Salman spotted Yamadayev's car passing by. They then contacted another man.

The ambush took place later that day. According to police sources, Yamadayev was shot in the back of the head despite the presence of two unarmed bodyguards.

frahman@thenational.ae

wissa@thenational.ae