MOSCOW: An alleged Russian crime boss wanted over a string of contract killings was extradited to Moscow from Austria on Wednesday after losing a long-running legal battle, Russia’s interior ministry said.
Aslan Gagiyev, nicknamed Dzhako, was flown to Russia escorted by police and prison officers, interior ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk said, after Austria’s highest court court last year rejected his appeal against extradition.
Kommersant business daily reported that Gagiyev was flown out on a regular Aeroflot flight.
The 47-year-old, who fled abroad in 2013, is accused of organising a criminal gang, banditry, murder, weapons trafficking and embezzlement, Volk said. He will be held in custody in Moscow.
Interpol posted a wanted picture of a heavy-set unsmiling man with receding hair and dark eyes.
Russia has accused Gagiyev’s gang of murdering 60 people including the mayor of the city of Vladikavkaz in the region of North Ossetia, which borders Chechnya in the North Caucasus, as well as the region’s former deputy premier. Both men were shot in their cars in 2008.
Gagiyev is “accused of involvement in dozens of contract killings including of law enforcement chiefs, top officials and well-known businessmen,” Volk said.
The Investigative Committee, which probes serious crime and is in charge of his case, said his gang committed killings in Moscow, Moscow region and North Ossetia.
The gang’s victims included the heads of two Russian banks, Kommmersant reported.
At least 22 of the gang members have already been convicted, with some receiving life sentences, the Investigative Committee said.
Gagiyev was arrested at Vienna’s main train station in January 2015 on an international arrest warrant. But Austria initially put his extradition to Russia on ice because of concerns about how he would be treated there and he was freed after paying 100,000 euros bail in February 2016.
He was then taken back into custody in September last year, however, after his appeal was rejected.
Gagiev denied wrongdoing and said Russia’s attempt to have him extradited was politically motivated. He also claimed to suffer from acute fear of flying but experts found he was putting this on.
With dark humour, Kommersant headlined its story on his extradition: “Aslan Gagiyev has been cured of his fear of flying.”—AFP