UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Homeland Security

Moscow prosecutors deny new probe into theater siege

RIA Novosti

14/01/2009 19:39 MOSCOW, January 14 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow's Investigation Committee has denied reports of a new probe into the 2002 terrorist attack on a Moscow theater that left 130 people dead, an aide to the Prosecutor's Office said on Wednesday.

In October 2002, some 40 terrorists took hostage an audience of over 900 people at a Dubrovka theater performance of a musical. After three days of negotiations Russian security forces released an undisclosed gas, which is believed to have caused complications and led to the deaths of some of the hostages, to disable the terrorists before storming the building.

The aide confirmed a second investigation began in November last year but said "this was done in order to start a separate case into looting at the theater," adding that the main probe into the siege has been suspended last December.

The victims and families of the theater siege recently brought cases against police officers and security personnel who allegedly stole property from the hostages at the time.

Earlier one of the victims' lawyers, Igor Trunov, said the investigation had been suspended in 2007 because the whereabouts of two suspected terrorists - Gerikhan Dudayev and Khasan Zakayev - were unknown.

Speaking on Radio Liberty in October, Trunov said that his clients, a surviving hostage and relatives of a man who died during the siege, had filed a case with a Moscow court to attempt to retrieve money they say was not returned to them by the authorities. His clients are also seeking compensation.

Yekaterina Dolgaya and relatives of Maxim Mikhailov claim that the possessions of the hostages were collected by investigators after the siege and then later returned to them and the relatives of the deceased. They say however that money and other valuables had not been returned.

Dolgaya says she lost 30,000 rubles (around $1,000 at the 2002 exchange rate) and $2,000 in dollars, while Mikhailov's relatives say $254 and 3150 rubles went missing.

"Upon studying the case materials we discovered a large number of papers documenting valuables, money and other items taken from the victims. These items, this money, was not returned, it was plundered," Trunov said.

"We submitted a number of criminal cases against those departments that were supposed to safeguard the items. However, we were simply told that the items were gone, that they were missing," he went on.

"We had a kind of victory when it was established that a security service officer who later died in a road accident was guilty of the theft. However, this ruling was later overturned," he said.

"We have yet to receive a comprehensible answer as to who stole the money," Trunov told the Kommersant newspaper in October. "Therefore, we have decided to appeal to the courts. As the law enforcement agencies are covering up the dirty hands of their employees, they can also take material responsibility for them."

Similar suits are expected to follow. The case has also been referred to the European Court of Human Rights.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list