As the trial gets underway in Moscow in the 2006 murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, her family’s lawyer tells FRANCE 24 how she found mercury in her car in France – and wonders whether it was intended to poison her.
Two years after the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a trial is underway in Moscow. Her family’s lawyer, Karinna Moskalenko, tells FRANCE 24 she’s unable to attend the preliminary hearing because she and her family are being examined for mercury poisoning in France.
Three men allegedly involved in the killing are in the dock, but the killer is still at large and police have not found those who ordered the murder.
Karinna Moskalenko spoke to FRANCE 24 from Strasbourg, France.
FRANCE 24: You found what is suspected to be mercury in your car on Monday. What happened?
When we got to the car, we realized something was not normal. My husband is a chemist and the substance looked like mercury. We saw the danger and were worried, asking ourselves what to do. The only solution was to call the French police.
The car was always locked; nobody should be able to open it. The local police launched the investigation immediately. They worked thoroughly, trying to check and obtain information quickly.
FRANCE 24: Do you think there is a link between Monday’s alleged poisoning in your car and the Politkoskaya trial set to begin today (Wednesday)?
I don’t know for sure. It has effectively prevented me from getting to the courthouse in Moscow for today’s hearing. I had to ask the court to postpone it. The exact nature of the act is not clear. Was the intention to provoke or to harm us, to poison me? Those who did this clearly intended to keep me unaware of the presence of the substance. But we’re still waiting for final results from police and forensic investigations. Once we get those results we’ll know for sure if the substance is poisonous. For now, it’s still too early to reach conclusions.
FRANCE 24: Will you be at the hearing today?
I’m really sorry not to be at the hearing today. But I just can’t. Yesterday, when I was supposed to get on the plane to Moscow, I had to be examined along with my family. The forensic examiners took medical samples for the investigation. I’m worried for my family.
FRANCE 24: Do you think the trial will be postponed?
I can tell you I asked the court to postpone the hearing, but I simply don’t know what will happen.
FRANCE 24: Let’s talk about the trial.
This murder case was not properly investigated and didn’t lead to proper results. It wasn’t effective.
In fact, we were denied the basic right of getting access to the investigation. This violates the European convention of human rights. Furthermore, I’m very worried about the results of today’s hearing. The court has to decide whether the media and public will be allowed to observe the trial. I’m afraid the court will decide on a closed hearing, in which case, the trial will not meet European standards.
FRANCE 24: You said you didn’t get access to the investigation file during the inquiry. Have you still not seen the file?
I didn’t get access to the file, not during the inquiry nor later. We couldn’t read and examine the elements. That violated human rights conventions. We complained to the court but they denied us access to the file.
There’s another troubling aspect in this trial: the fact that it is being tried by a military court. This is tricky. The official reason is that one of the defendants used to be a law enforcement officer. But in reality, this defendant is not really linked to the Politkovskaya murder. The other accused and the killer himself do not deserve to be tried by a military court, they should be tried by an open tribunal.
Date created : 2008-10-15