Austria Arrests 7 Suspects in Chechen's Death

VIENNA -- Austrian authorities said Wednesday that they arrested seven suspects in the killing of a Chechen refugee who was a critic of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

Umar Israilov was shot dead Jan. 13 on a Vienna street. Officials say they have no proof that the killing of the 27-year-old was political, but human rights activists say his death was linked to his opposition to Kadyrov.

Law enforcement officials said the men were detained in 18 police sweeps of suspects' homes and centers for asylum-seekers in Vienna and two Austrian provinces on Wednesday. That followed the detention several weeks ago of a suspect who remains in custody.

Gerhard Jarosch, a spokesman for the Vienna public prosecutor's office, said all those detained were Chechens -- six with refugee status in Austria and one who had applied for it.

When asked if Israilov's killing was politically motivated, Jarosch said that currently "nothing could be excluded."

Jarosch said it was still unclear if the suspects included Israilov's killers.

But Hannes Gulnbrein, who headed the SWAT team, said police found two casings from bullets that corresponded to the type of weapon used to carry out the crime. He described the find as a "hot lead."