(CPJ/IFEX) – The following is a 19 February 2009 CPJ press release:
RUSSIA: Three men acquitted in Politkovskaya murder
New York, February 19, 2009 –
Three defendants in the October 2006 murder of Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya walked free out of the Moscow District
Military Court today after a jury unanimously acquitted them of helping to organize the crime, according to local news reports. The state prosecution said it will appeal the verdict. The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Russian authorities to vigorously seek out the masterminds and triggerman, thoroughly gather all available evidence, bring all perpetrators to trial with solid proof of their involvement in the crime, and try them in a court open to the press and the public. Those acquitted are Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, a former police officer with the Moscow Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, and ethnic Chechen brothers Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov. A fourth suspect, Pavel Ryaguzov, a former Federal Security Service (FSB) lieutenant colonel, was tried in a separate case but alongside the three because of his previous association with Khadzhikurbanov. The jury also acquitted Ryaguzov of unrelated charges of abuse and extortion today. All defendants had pleaded not guilty, according to local news reports and CPJ sources close to the trial.
Read the full story IFEX update
WHO killed Anna Politkovskaya, Russia’s best and bravest campaigning journalist? Who organised it? Who were the shadowy figures seen on CCTV footage, tailing her in the days leading up to her murder? And who gave the order? By the time the sometimes-farcical trial of four men charged in connection with the killing ended in an acquittal on Thursday February 19th, few believed that the answer to any of these questions would emerge. The story of Ms Politkovskaya’s death in 2006 and the bungling, evasive behaviour of the Russian authorities in dealing with it was just the sort of topic suited for her own fiery pen.
The jury acquitted two brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov, who were charged with acting as accomplices in the murder. A former police officer, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, was found not guilty of organising it. Pavel Ryaguzov, a former agent with the FSB, Russia’s domestic-security service, was acquitted of a related extortion charge. But that bare summary does not do justice to the baroque mixture of intrigue, incompetence and official secrecy that followed Ms Politkovskaya’s murder.
No Justice The Economist