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$2 million paid for Anna Politkovskaya's murder, key witness tells Moscow court

$2 million paid for Anna Politkovskaya's murder, key witness tells Moscow court
Portraits of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya and two men accused in connection with her murder are attached to a map showing the area where she was killed, in a court in Moscow December 2, 2008. The map was put on public display by the prosecution. Russia's prosecutor-general has defended the investigation into the murder of Politkovskaya by saying his team is closing in on both the assassin and the person who ordered the killing. More than two years after the murder of the reporter who was critical of the Kremlin, three men are on trial for helping the suspected assassin in the politically sensitive case.Photo: Reuters / Denis Sinyakov

Citing the examination of “classified” material evidence, the presiding judge in the Anna Politkovskaya murder case trial again barred on Thursday the press and public from the hearing. The trial was re-opened for both on Friday.

A witness testifying in the trial said on Friday that a bounty of $2 million was paid to carry out the killing. Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, who had previously served 12 years in jail for attempting to kill a Ukrainian business man, gave the evidence during a closed session.

RIA Novosti news agency quoted Politkovskaya family lawyer Anna Stavitskaya as saying the witness testified that one of the accused, former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, had told him that he had gathered information about Politkovskaya.

On November 17, the judge had ruled in favour of allowing the press and public to attend the trial. But they were excluded two days later, only to be allowed back in again when the trial finally resumed on November 25.

Friday's hearing also began behind closed doors, but the press and public were allowed back into the courtroom in the afternoon, when Sergei Sokolov, the editor of Politkovskaya’s newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, testified. He said one of the four defendants, Dzhabrail Makhmudov, was a Federal Security Service agent.

Politkovskaya wrote in detail about the war in Chechnya and torture of citizens with alleged Kremlin complicity. She was shot dead in the lobby of her Moscow apartment house in October 2006. Three men—Moscow police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and brothers Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov—are standing trial for allegedly organising and assisting the murder. A third Makhmudov brother, Rustam, who allegedly pulled the trigger, is believed to be in hiding abroad.

The next hearing has been set for December 9.

Paris-based Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) reiterated its condemnation of the repeated closed-door sessions in this case. “Judge Yevgeni Zubov’s decision to continue the trial behind closed doors has increased our concern about transparency. It prevents journalists and public from being able to evaluate the arguments, testimony and evidence presented in court.”

Date posted: December 6, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 222