New trial opens for murdered Russian journalist

Kremlin-critic Anna Politkovskaya was killed outside her Moscow home in 2006.
Three men went on trial Wednesday in connection with the killing of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Russia’s RIA-Novosti news agency reported.

Ibragim and Djabrail Makhmudov, who are brothers, and former interior ministry officer Sergei Khadjikurbanov, are not accused of killing Politkovskaya themselves, but being accomplices. It is the second time the three are being tried in connection with the 2006 murder. They were found not guilty in February, with the jury saying there was not enough evidence to convict them. But in June, Russia’s Supreme Court threw out the verdict and ordered that they be tried again. A fourth man, former FSB secret service agent Pavel Ryaguzov, will also be retried after he was acquitted separately of charges that he attempted to extort money in a related aspect of the case, according to media reports. The original trial of the Makhmudov brothers and Khadjikurbanov lasted nearly a year.

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But the case was seen as flawed because neither the assassin nor the person who gave the order to kill Politkovskaya were on trial. The alleged gunman is in hiding and the person who gave the orders is unidentified. The retrial “decision is politically motivated and we fully expected it because they don’t really want to find those who are guilty,” defense attorney Murad Musayev said in June when the Supreme Court ordered the new trial. Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of the Kremlin, was found shot dead in her apartment building in October 2006. At the time of her death, she was working on a series of reports about Chechnya for the independent, Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta. A friend of Politkovskaya’s, human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, was killed last month after being abducted from her home in Chechnya.