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Ex-Russian army officer questioned as suspect in Chechen murders


MOSCOW, June 9 (RIA Novosti) - A former Russian army colonel who killed an 18-year-old Chechen woman, has been interrogated as a suspect in the murder of three other Chechen residents, Russian investigators said on Tuesday.

Yury Budanov, who commanded a tank regiment during the second Chechen war, was convicted in the summer of 2003 of strangling 18-year-old Elsa Kungayeva three years earlier and was sentenced to 10 years in jail. He was paroled in January 2009.

"In 2000, 18 Chechen residents were illegally detained at an outpost at Duba-Yurt of Chechnya's Shali District. Three of them were later found dead. A number of locals claim that Yury Budanov...was behind the murder. Budanov denied his involvement during interrogation," the investigation committee at the Russian Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement.

Investigators said they would conduct a number of DNA tests and question the other detainees, victims' relatives and witnesses of the alleged crime.

The case was reopened earlier this year after several Chechen residents filed a document stating that Budanov was involved in the abduction and murder of the three people.

The document said that Budanov himself stopped the car containing the victims and took them away and their bodies were later discovered. The relatives of the people killed had identified Budanov from television reports and photographs in the press.

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