SLUG: 2-295880 Denmaek / Chechen Arrest
TITLE= DENMARK CHECHEN ARREST
BYLINE= PETER HEINLEIN
INTRO: Danish police have detained a senior Chechen official after receiving a request from Russia, accusing the envoy of involvement in last week's theater siege and other terrorist attacks. Peter Heinlein reports from Copenhagen.
TEXT: Police took the Chechen official, Ahmed Zakayev, into custody Tuesday, at the conclusion of a two-day conference of Chechen exiles.
Officials say they detained Mr. Zakayev, after Russia requested that he be handed over to face charges that he participated in a series of terrorist attacks, including the planning for last week's hostage-taking at a Moscow theater.
Danish officials say Russia will have 30-days to present evidence to support its charges. Authorities in Copenhagen will then have to decide whether the evidence warrants Mr. Zakayev's extradition. One official said that decision will likely be influenced by several other factors, including whether he might face the death penalty.
Mr. Zakayev is a senior aide to Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. During this week's Chechen Congress in Copenhagen, he said the ousted Chechen government had no connection to the theater siege, and he called on Russia to open negotiations on the future of Chechnya.
Russia criticized Denmark for hosting the Chechen exiles meeting. Danish officials defended their decision as a matter of free speech. (signed)
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