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    EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATES LEGALITY OF EXTRADITION OF 5 CHECHENS FROM GEORGIA TO RUSSIA

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    TBILISI, February 23, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- In the Georgian Supreme court representatives of the Investigation department of the European Court of human rights are investigating legality of extradition of 5 Chechens from Georgia to Russia in September 2002.

    Lia Mukhashavria, defense attorney of the Chechens stated to RIA Novosti: "Representatives of the European court are questioning all investigators of the General Prosecutor's office involved in the extradition case. In the next few days a meeting is expected to take place between Nugzar Gabrichidze, former Prosecutor General of Georgia on whose order 5 Chechens were extradited to Russia".

    According to her, in the wake of his work in Tbilisi the representative of the European court will go to Russia to familiarize himself with the materials, which formed the basis for extradition.

    In summer 2002 Georgian frontier guards detained 13 Chechens at the Chechen sector of the Russian-Georgian border for illegal state border crossing. The majority of detainees possessed firearms, which aggravated their guilt.

    Later on the decision of the Georgian court 5 out of 13 Chechens were transferred to the Russian side on the basis of documents provided by the Russian General Prosecutor's office, which stated that the detained Chechens were involved in committing especially grave crimes on the territory of Russia. Nevertheless defense attorneys appealed the judgement of the Georgian court in the European court of human rights.

    The Georgian court recognized two Chechens as Georgian citizens. One had a refugee status, which protected him from extradition. The Georgian court did not recognize guilt of other 5 Chechens and they were let free as evidence of their guilt was considered insufficient to justify their extradition.

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