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Suspect in 2002 terrorist attack on Moscow theater detained at Crimean border

December 17, 2014, 14:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Chechen Khasan Zakayev was detained trying to cross from Ukraine to Crimea with a fake passport
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Site of terrorist attack on Moscow's Dubrovka theater (archive)

Site of terrorist attack on Moscow's Dubrovka theater (archive)

© ITAR-TASS/Anton Denisov

MOSCOW, December 17. /TASS/. The arrest of a fugitive suspected terrorist has led Russian officials to reopen investigations into the deaths of 130 taken prisoner during a hostage seizure at a Moscow theater.

Chechen Khasan Zakayev was detained trying to cross from Ukraine to Crimea with a fake passport, Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee, said on Wednesday. Zakayev, 41 and sought on the international wanted list, is in custody, he said.

Investigators say Zakayev belonged to a terrorist group led by Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, reportedly killed in neighbouring Ingushetia in 2006 and reckoned the principal figure behind the theater siege.

Zakayev is accused of organising transportation of weapons and homemade explosive devices to Moscow, Markin said, noting that accomplices in the assault were sentenced to prison terms of between 7.5 years and 22 years in 2004 and 2005.

“Only one accomplice - Gerikhan Dudayev - is still on the international wanted list,” the spokesman said, adding that he would not go unpunished.

Both Zakayev and Dudayev are charged with being members of a criminal gang, masterminding the terrorist attack, and illegal trafficking in weapons and explosives.

On 23 October 2002, 40 Chechen militants took more than 900 hostages inside Moscow's Dubrovka theatre, showing the popular musical Nord-Ost.

After three days of negotiations, Russian security services pumped sleeping gas into the hall, stormed it and killed all the attackers. But some 130 hostages died - most not at the hands of the terrorists but apparently suffering effects of the gas.

The probe into the case lasted for more than four years but was suspended in 2007. Prosecutors said it had not proved possible to locate the accused Dudayev and Zakayev.

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