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Azerbaijan: Court Sentences Would-Be Mercenaries

Baku, 4 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A military court in Azerbaijan has sentenced 12 Azerbaijani citizens for attempting to fight as mercenaries in Russia's breakaway republic of Chechnya. The court found that the men, who were arrested in August, had received training in Chechen separatist rebel camps.

Five were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to five years. The others were given suspended sentences.

Also yesterday, Azerbaijani authorities said four other Azerbaijani citizens had been arrested for intending to fight as mercenaries in Chechnya.

In Chechnya, Russian federal forces said some 100 separatist militants have been killed since 30 December in a "special operation" in the Kurchaloi district. Russian forces reported only two federal servicemen had been killed and 11 wounded. The numbers provided by the Russian forces could not be independently confirmed.