Germany’s Top Diplomat Contradicts Putin, Says Russia Never Asked to Extradite Chechen Fighter

Germany’s top diplomat denied Moscow requested the extradition an ethnic Chechen before he was murdered in Berlin, contradicting a statement made by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said no one asked the government to turn over Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, 40, who had fought alongside separatists in Russia’s Chechnya region before later moving his family to Germany, where he had been seeking asylum.

“There is nothing, neither with us, nor with the Interior Ministry nor with the authorities responsible for requests for legal assistance,” Hass said in an interview with ZDF on December 13. “And to say now, that we could have delivered him long ago – it simply didn’t happen.”

Khangoshvili was shot twice in the head in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten park on August 23. A Russian man was arrested shortly after the shooting and has been held in police custody. German prosecutors have said his murder may have been ordered by Russian government agencies.

Putin said during a December 9 news conference with foreign leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Moscow had requested Khangoshvili’s extradition, calling him “a hardened and murderous fighter” wanted in Russia.

Putin alleged Khangoshvili “killed 98 people in one of his acts” and that he was also “one of the organizers of a Moscow metro blast.” He gave no further details or evidence to back up the claim.

The allegations made by Putin against Khangoshvili “have never been communicated to the federal government in the past,” Hass said. They were made only after Germany launched an investigation into his murder, he said.

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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