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Europe

Main suspect in Politkovskaya murder arrested

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2011-05-31

The top police suspect in the 2006 murder of investigative Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been arrested in Chechnya – but the woman's family doubts the person who ordered the assassination will ever be identified.

The family of murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya on Tuesday welcomed news that the top suspect in her killing had been arrested - but said it was unlikely the real mastermind would ever be caught.

Rustam Makhmudov was taken into custody in southwest Chechnya. He had been on the run and considered a top suspect since early in the investigation. Police said he would be transferred to Moscow on Tuesday.

Politkovskaya had carved a name for herself as an anti-government reporter who accused then-President Vladimir Putin of exploiting conflict in troubled Chechnya to stifle democratic reform in Russia.

She was also critical of Chechen leader Ramzam Kadyrov, whom she accused of human rights abuses. Before she was killed, she reported a conversation with Kadyrov in which he told her: "You're an enemy to be shot..."

Politkovskaya was gunned down at point blank range in the elevator of her Moscow apartment block in 2006.

'Serious questions remain'

Andrew Osborn, Daily Telegraph bureau chief in Moscow, told FRANCE 24 on Tuesday that the family was relieved that 37-year-old Chechen Rustam Makhmudov had been caught at last.

He said: “Her adult children had said that the arrest is a real breakthrough – but they are playing it down. They say this man should have been arrested years ago. What they really want to know is who masterminded the murder.”

But the family, he said, were not convinced the real culprit would be identified. “Serious questions remain,” he said.

Osborn said that police were “100 percent sure” Makhmudov, who they believe was working in conjunction with his two brothers, was the man who pulled the trigger.

Novaya Gazeta, the investigative newspaper where Politkovskaya worked as a reporter, was cautiously optimistic.

“There's a good possibility to bring closer a judgment of the guilty and expose a large number of participants,'' he told Russian news agency ITAR-Tass.

It is not the first time suspects in the case have gone before the courts.

In 2009 Makhmudov's brother Dzhabrail and Ibragim as well as former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov were investigated for the killing.

They were acquitted after a jury trial, but the Supreme Court annulled the verdict and ordered the case reopened.
 

Date created : 2011-05-31

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