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Public admitted to Politkovskaya trial with no mastermind or hit-man among defendants

Public admitted to Politkovskaya murder trial with no hit-man among defendants
Trial begins at last: File picture shows people laying flowers outside the house where Anna Politkovskaya was killed in Moscow. A trial into the killing of the Russian journalist opens on Monday in a military court in Moscow, with the Kremlin critic's supporters fearing it will shed little light on the casePhoto: Agence France-Presse (AFP) / Dmitry Kostyukov

Four men went on trial Monday in connection with the murder of Russian journalist and outspoken Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya, despite the failure of the authorities to catch the masterminds. The four have been charged with helping organise the October 2006 shooting of Politovskaya at her apartment block in central Moscow.

In a victory for Politkovskaya's lawyers who had feared the process could be held in secret, the judge of the Russian military court ruled that the trial should be held in open court. "I reject the request of the prosecutors that the trial should proceed behind closed doors. But I will close the trial if there is pressure on the jurors," Judge Yevgeny Zubov said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“Allowing the public and press to attend the trial is a good decision, given the importance of the case,” Paris-based Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “The murder victim was an outspoken and independent journalist who dedicated her professional life to making the public aware of aspects of reality that many people would have liked to cover up. We have a debt towards here. We owe her transparency in the investigation and in the trial of her murderers.”

RSF said, “Regardless of the outcome of this trial, this case will not be over until those who ordered Politkovskaya’s murder and the gunman who carried it out have been identified and brought to justice.”

When RSF hosted a news conference by Politkovskaya’s son, Ilya Politkovski, in Paris on October 3, he urged Politkovskaya’s fellow journalists not to forget her. “It is important that the media attention does not let up,” he said. He also reported that the family had brought a complaint before the European Court of Human Rights accusing the Russian state of “violating the right to life” under article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The four men on trial are Pavel Ryaguzov, a lieutenant-colonel in the Federal Security Service (FSB), Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, a former police officer specialised in combating organised crime, and two Chechen brothers, Dzhabrail Makhmudov and Ibrahim Makhmudov. Khadzhikurbanov is accused of helping to organise the contract killing. The Makhmudov brothers are regarded as accomplices.

When Monday's hearing began, the judges ruled in favour of allowing the public and press to attend. The fact that one of the defendants is an FSB officer and that, according to one of the defence lawyers, the evidence includes classified documents were not deemed to be sufficient grounds for holding the trial behind closed doors.

Jury selection is to be decided in Tuesday's hearing. It is not known how long the trial will last.

Date posted: November 17, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 336