Bulgarian court refuses to hand over terror suspect to Russia

A Bulgarian court of appeals has refused to extradite a Chechen national turned Austrian refugee who is considered to be a terror suspect in Russia.

Akhmed Chatayev was detained on the Turkish-Bulgarian border on May 19, the Bulgarian news agency Gustonews was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

In June a Bulgarian court ruled that Chatayev could be extradited to Russia, but he filed and won an appeal.

According to Gustonews, Chatayev, who has refugee status in Austria, is suspected of having connections to Chechen terrorists during the period 1999 to 2007.

The man allegedly took part in the recruitment of terrorists in Chechnya, as well as financed terrorist groups in the region. Prosecutors believe he passed on an estimated 12,000 euros to terrorist organizations.

Chatayev, in turn, claims that at the time he was in Azerbaijan and that he has been living in Austria since 2003.

His defense says that the man lost his arm as a result of torture by Russian law enforcercement, the online news outlet Lenta.ru reported. 

Chatayev’s refugee status puts him under the protection of the UN convention on refugees, to which Bulgaria is a signatory.

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