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    QATARI COURT WON'T LET RUSSIAN CONSUL TESTIFY IN CONNECTION WITH MURDER OF CHECHEN REBEL LEADER

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    MOSCOW, May 13 (RIA Novosti) - The Shariah Court of Qatar has again rejected the Defense's request that Russian Consul Maxim Maximov be invited to testify for the two fellow countrymen facing murder charges in the death of Chechen rebel leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev. This is according to Ilya Levitov, spokesman for the law firm Yegorov & Co., which assists a Qatari attorney in defending the Russian suspects in court.

    The first such request was turned down May 10.

    The Shariah Court resumed hearings in the Yandarbiyev case on Thursday, after a two-day break. One of the Defense's two Qatari witnesses testified today; the other will do so on Monday, May 17, Levitov said. The court will then adjourn, to start deliberations two or three weeks later, he added.

    Yandarbiyev was killed in a car bomb explosion on February 13. He was granted political asylum in Qatar three years before. His status gave him no right to engage in political activity here, and in media interviews he would position himself as a personal guest of the Emir of Qatar, Sheik at-Tani.

    Three Russian nationals, on an assignment in the capital of Doha, were arrested by Qatari special services February 19, on charges of complicity in the murder of Yandarbiyev. One of the detainees, the First Secretary of the Russian Embassy to Qatar, was released from custody a few days later thanks to his diplomatic immunity.

    Moscow has repeatedly reemphasized the innocence of the arrested Russian nationals, demanding that they be immediately sent home. The Foreign Ministry has pointed out in a statement that the two men's stay in Qatar was absolutely legal and that their assignment was about analyzing intelligence information to raise the efficiency of counter-terrorism measures.

    Analysts who follow the proceedings say there is a strong possibility that the Russian suspects will be convicted by the Shariah Court, but they expect the Emir of Qatar to issue a decree pardoning the men as soon as the guilty verdict is pronounced.

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