Court will not halt Politkovskaya retrial despite family’s plea

A Moscow judge has refused to halt a retrial of three alleged accomplices in the murder of campaigning journalist Anna Politkovskaya. The family say the retrial is a distraction from the hunt for the man they believe pulled the trigger.


REUTERS - A Moscow military court on Friday turned down a petition by the family of murdered Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya intended to push authorities to find the mastermind they believe was behind her shooting.


The judge refused to halt a retrial of three alleged accomplices in her murder, who were cleared at their first trial.


The family believe the retrial is a distraction from the hunt for the hunt for a man on the run believed to have pulled the trigger and further investigation into who might have ordered the hit.


State prosecutors and lawyers for the defence had supported the family's petition.



"We will appeal against this very strange decision by the military court," Ilya, Politkovskaya's son, told Reuters by telephone. "Everyone supported further investigation.


"We want further investigation and then one court for everyone involved from the killer to the person who really ordered the murder," he said.


Politkovskaya, a 48-year-old mother of two who published scathing exposes of official corruption and rights abuses, was shot as she returned to her central Moscow apartment block from the supermarket on Oct. 7, 2006.


The United States and European Union have pressed the Kremlin to ensure the prosecution of her killers.


After a four-month trial, a jury ruled in February that brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov were not guilty of acting as accomplices in the murder. The jury also cleared former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov of any role.


The supreme court in June ordered a retrial, a decision criticised by Politkovskaya's family who said it would distract attention from the failure of the Russian authorities to bring proceedings against the hypothetical mastermind.


The defendants' lawyer Murad Musayev said on Friday he had supported the family's petition and his clients were innocent.


The man prosecutors say pulled the trigger, Rustam Makhmudov, is on the run. No one has been charged with ordering the killing.


The Kremlin has denied any involvement in Politkovskaya's murder and prosecutors have said the killing was an attempt to discredit Russia.


Vladimir Putin, president at the time of the killing and now prime minister, has said Russia is committed to solving the crime.


The murder raised concerns about the safety of reporters who challenge the Russian authorities.


The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Russia as the world's third most dangerous place for reporters, after Iraq and Algeria. It says 50 reporters have been killed in Russia since 1992.

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