Boss of ‘hitmen army,’ who allegedly has the blood of 60 victims on his hands, extradited to Russia
The man arrived in Moscow from Vienna on a regular flight on Wednesday under heavy escort from representatives of several Russian security agencies.
Gagiyev, also known as Dzhako, faces numerous criminal charges in Russia, including the organization of a criminal community, banditry, murder, illegal circulation of weapons and fraud, according to Irina Volk, Russia’s Interior Ministry spokeswoman. He faces a lifetime in prison for his alleged crimes.
According to the investigators, back in 2004, the native of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia organized a gang that, at one point, had more than 50 members. The group, which was labeled the ‘hitmen army’ by the Russian media, specialized in contract killings and operated mostly in the southern Russian republic of North Ossetia, Moscow and its suburbs. The alleged hit list of the gang includes the Mayor of Vladikavkaz Vitaly Karaev, vice-premier of North Ossetia Kazbek Pagiyev, law enforcers, prominent bankers and businessmen.
Gagiyev was put on an international wanted list after fleeing Russia in 2013, and he was arrested in Vienna back in 2015. Since then, the Austrian courts have made several rulings to extradite the criminal boss to Russia, but his lawyers have been stalling the process on various pretexts.
Dzhako was supposed to be handed over to Russia in November last year, but, at the last moment, his lawyers presented a medical certificate that their client suffered from a severe form of aerophobia, the fear of flying. The court ordered the examination of Gagiyev by two experts, who independently ruled that he didn’t have the condition and that nothing prevented the defendant from being transported to Moscow by plane.
His lawyers also referred the case to the European Court of Human Rights. They argued that Austria had no right to keep him in custody for such a long period of time and that the decision to extradite him violated his rights.
Gagiyev’s right-hand man and his namesake, Oleg Gagiyev, is already serving a life sentence in Russia, as well as another senior gang member. Convictions have been secured by prosecutors for 20 other people involved, while 13 others are in police custody awaiting or undergoing trial. Nine suspects are fugitives from the law.
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