Decision on Zakayev will not be political - Poland's chief prosecutor

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A decision on the extradition to Russia of Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev will be based on the law, not politics, Poland's chief prosecutor said on Friday.

A decision on the extradition to Russia of Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev will be based on the law, not politics, Poland's chief prosecutor said on Friday.

Zakayev, in Poland for a Chechen people's congress, was detained in Warsaw earlier in the day while on his way to the Polish prosecutor's office to present materials relating to Russia's allegations against him.

Russia placed Zakayev on the international wanted list in 2001 on terrorist charges. He was granted political asylum by Britain in 2002. Russia has repeatedly asked Britain to extradite him, but the request has invariably been refused.

"We will act in keeping with the letter of the law, not according to political factors," Andrzej Seremet said during a telephone conversation with Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika. His comments appeared to contradict an earlier statement by Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Tusk said that Poland will only extradite Zakayev if the decision meets the country's national interests.

Chaika said Russia had forwarded "all necessary additional materials on the case" to Poland. He added that if extradited to Russia, Zakayev would face a fair trial.

The evidence against Zakayev that Russia has forwarded to Poland is "very serious," Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the State Duma's foreign affairs committee, told journalists.

"Poland will have every reason to hand Zakayev over to Russia," Kosachyov said.

Zakayev, who took part in the first Chechen War and led attacks on federal forces, denied in 2009 claims by Russia's security services that he was "attempting to revive the militant movement" in the region.

He also said he was ready for talks with Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov, who subsequently said he would welcome Zakayev's return to Chechnya.

Zakayev, who has spoken out against Islamic radicalism in the North Caucasus, was "sentenced to death" by Chechnya's most wanted militant leader, Doku Umarov, in 2007.

"He practices a democratic religion, calls for secularism and prefers laws established by people to the law of Allah," the statement said.

MOSCOW, September 17 (RIA Novosti) 

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