Austrian investigators say that counterterrorism authorities have concluded that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov ordered an abduction that led to the murder of a Chechen refugee in Austria last year.
The victim, Umar Israilov, was a former bodyguard who was living in exile and apparently was shot to death when he tried to flee his would-be kidnappers.
The conclusions mark the first time that Kadyrov has been officially linked to the death.
But rights activists have long accused Kadyrov of involvement in contract killings
and other wrongdoing in Chechnya, where his Kremlin backing gives him wide berth that critics say puts him above Russian law.
"The New York Times
" first broke the story of the Austrian investigators' conclusions, saying federal prosecutors are "preparing indictments."
Three Chechen men are in Austrian detention over the killing of Israilov, while the suspected trigger man is thought to have returned to Russia, the paper reported.
Gerhard Jarosch, the spokesman of the Vienna prosecutor's office, told media that it "seems that [Israilov's] abduction was planned, not his murder. That happened only after the kidnapping went wrong."
Israilov had launched a human rights case against Kadyrov with the European Court of Human Rights in 2006. In his complaint, Israilov alleged that the Chechen president was responsible for abductions, torture, and murder in pursuit of Moscow's counterinsurgency operations in the North Caucasus republic.compiled from media and agency reports