MOSCOW, January 10 (RIA Novosti) – Swedish prosecutors have closed a more than six-year-old case against a Chechen suspected in Russia of kidnapping a Russian photographer who was later killed, Russian daily Kommersant reported Thursday.
Magomed Uspayev, who was living in Sweden under the name Maga Zakhiyev, was arrested in the southwestern city of Gothenburg in August 2006 and investigated by Swedish authorities, after being tipped off by Russian officials, over the 1999 kidnapping of ITAR-TASS photographer Vladimir Yatsina in Ingushetia.
Russian investigators claim Uspayev, who had reportedly agreed to guide Yatsina to Chechnya for a fee, handed the photographer over to Chechen terrorists upon his arrival in the North Caucasus. Yatsina was murdered at some point in the following several months, according to various accounts.
But Matts Sallstrom, chief prosecutor in Gothenburg, told Kommersant he was closing the case, claiming the evidence turned over by Russian authorities failed to prove Uspayev’s guilt.
The Russian Prosecutor General asked to extradite Uspayev shortly after his arrest in Sweden, but the Swedish Ministry of Justice turned down the request in 2007 and launched its own investigation instead.
Sallstrom noted, however, that an investigation into Uspayev continues in Russia, and promised that Sweden would reopen the case if new evidence became available.
Uspayev maintains his innocence, and has also claimed the authorities were investigating the wrong man.
He has accused Russian authorities of seeking him out over his familial ties to Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, whom Russian security forces killed in 2005. Maskhadov family members, however, have denied any relations to Uspayev.
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