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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jury in Dagestan Acquits Suspect in 1999 Bombing

Itar-TassMagomed Salikhov on Tuesday
MAKHACHKALA -- A jury in Dagestan on Tuesday acquitted a man charged with carrying out a 1999 apartment blast that killed 64 people and helped trigger Moscow's renewed military campaign in Chechnya, court officials said.

Magomed Salikhov was acquitted of charges of organizing the Sept. 4, 1999, explosion that destroyed a building housing Russian military officers and their families in the Caspian Sea town of Buinaksk, said Andrei Ashurov, a spokesman for the Dagestani Supreme Court.

The jury found Salikhov guilty of illegally crossing into Russia from Azerbaijan and using forged documents. Kurban Pashayev, the presiding judge, said Salikhov would be sentenced later this month.

Several other men were convicted in 2001 on charges of carrying out the explosion, and two of them, including Salikhov's younger brother, were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Prosecutors said they had been promised $30,000 for carrying out the blast by Omar Ibn al-Khattab, a Saudi-born militant who led rebel fighters in Chechnya, which neighbors Dagestan. Al-Khattab died in 2002.

The Buinaksk bombing was the first of four apartment-building blasts that month. The Kremlin blamed Chechen-based militants for the attacks, which killed about 300, and sent troops back into Chechnya later that month, starting the second of two wars there in a decade.