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Georgia Could Investigate Istanbul Bomber's Alleged Links to Saakashvili

© REUTERS / Murad SezerWorkers repair the damaged parts of the terminal building at Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey, following yesterday's blast June 29, 2016
Workers repair the damaged parts of the terminal building at Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey, following yesterday's blast June 29, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Georgia confirmed on Monday that the alleged terrorist behind the recent suicide bombing attack in Istanbul, was backed by former Georgian President.

Paramedics attend to casualties outside Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, Turkey, following an attack, June 28, 2016 - Sputnik International
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TBILISI (Sputnik) — Georgia's minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the occupied territories, accommodation and refugees confirmed on Monday that Akhmed Chatayev, the alleged mastermind behind the recent suicide bombing attack in Istanbul, was backed by former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, adding that Tbilisi may open an investigation into the issue.

On June 28 evening, three suicide blasts rocked Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport, leaving 42 people dead and more than 200 injured. Turkish media, citing sources in the prosecutor's office, reported that the terrorist act was plotted by Chatayev, a Russian citizen from the Republic of Chechnya who had been wanted by the Russian authorities for terrorism-related offenses but escaped to Europe and avoided extradition to Russia.

"This notorious terrorist has turned out to be an agent of Saakashvili and received funding from him. Saakashvili changed his passports one after another. Since we are talking about it, there is relevant evidence by the relevant bodies… Presumably, an investigation will be started in connection with this and it will be very interesting to hear what Saakashvili has to say," Sozar Subari told reporters.

Police officers patrol at Turkey's largest airport, Istanbul Ataturk, following yesterday's blast June 29, 2016. - Sputnik International
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Chatayev received political asylum in Austria after claiming that he had lost an arm as a result of torture in Russian camps. Chatayev was detained in possession of weapons in Ukraine but was found not guilty of any offense and was subsequently handed over to Georgia, as the European Court of Justice forbade his extradition to Russia. In 2011, Chatayev was detained on the Bulgarian-Turkish border. A Bulgarian court initially ruled to extradite him to Russia but a higher court repealed the ruling.

"As to why Chatayev was released by our authorities — he was charged only… with illegal possession of weapons, and we did not have any other evidence… Witnesses of the former authorities testified that he had a gun, then they changed their testimony and therefore denied the information. Therefore, his arrest would have been illegal, " Subari said.

In January, the Russian National Anti-terrorist Committee warned that Chatayev was in command of a special unit of Daesh tasked with preparing terrorist acts in Russia and Europe, comprising mainly of people from the North Caucasus.

Last week, the Russian Interior Ministry said that Chatayev had lived in Georgia where he was granted citizenship before leaving for Syria in 2015.

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