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An alleged Russian crime boss suspected in a string of contract killings has been extradited by Austria to Moscow after losing a years-long legal battle, Russia's Interior Ministry says.

Ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk said on June 20 said that 47-year-old Aslan Gagiyev, also known as Dzhako, had been flown to Russia, escorted by police and prison officers.

Austria's highest court had rejected Gagiyev’s appeal against extradition.

Gagiyev fled abroad in 2013 after being accused of organizing a criminal gang, banditry, murder, weapons trafficking, and embezzlement, Volk said.

Russia has accused Gagiyev's gang of murdering 60 people, including the mayor of the city of Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, which borders Chechnya, as well as the region's former deputy prime minister.

Volk said Gagiyev is "accused of involvement in dozens of contract killings including of law-enforcement chiefs, top officials and well-known businessmen."

The Russian Investigative Committee said at least 22 of the gang members have been convicted of crimes, with some receiving life sentences.

Gagiyev was arrested at a Vienna train station in January 2015 on an international arrest warrant.

Austria initially delayed his extradition to Russia because of concerns about his rights there, and he was freed after posting a 100,000-euro bail in February 2016.

He was taken back into custody in September 2017 after his appeal was rejected.

Gagiyev has denied wrongdoing and said Russia's attempt to have him extradited was politically motivated.

Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, and Crime Russia

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