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19 February 2009

Russian Federation: Anna Politkovskaya’s trial closes – but the investigation must continue

The investigation into the murder of human rights journalist Anna Politkovskaya must continue with renewed vigour, Amnesty International said today as a jury in a Moscow military district court acquitted all those charged with involvement in the murder.

 “We urge the relevant Russian authorities not to stop here but to continue the investigation into the murder and to bring to justice all those involved, including the gunman and those who ordered the killing,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

The jury stated that they did not find proof of guilt in the evidence provided by the investigation.

Anna Stavitskaia, one of the representatives of the children of Anna Politkovskaya, noted after the trial that the investigation had been weak and that the defence of the accused had been much stronger.

“The end of the trial does not lift the onus from the authority to find the murderer and his sponsors,” Nicola Duckworth said.

“Delivering justice for the murder of Anna Politkovskaya will demonstrate that the Russian authorities have the political will to end the silencing of human rights defenders.”

In her address to the jury a few days before the decision, lawyer Karinna Moskalenko, also representing the children of Anna Politkovskaya, said: “Anna hated impunity and lawlessness and she would not have wanted to see someone who committed a serious crime go free. At the same time, she would not have wanted at all to see someone being sentenced for a crime, he did not commit.”

Background
Journalist and human rights defender Anna Politkovskaya was murdered on 7 October 2006 in Moscow.

Anna Politkovskaya faced intimidation and harassment from Russian authorities, including the authorities in Chechnya, due to her outspoken criticism of government policy and action. After she began writing in 1999 about the armed conflict in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, she was detained, and threatened with serious reprisals, including death threats, on several occasions.

Since late August 2007 at least 12 people have been detained in connection with the murder but several were later released. The publicly named suspects in the case include officials from the Ministry of Interior, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and a former head of a local administration in Chechnya.  

During the jury trial, which started in November 2008, the members of the jury had to come to a conclusion about the participation in the murder and the guilt of Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov and Sergei Khadzhikurbanov. The later, a former police officer had also been accused of having detained and ill-treated businessman Eduard Ponikarov together with FSB officer Pavel Riaguzov.

Amnesty International attended a large part of the hearings into the murder case.
Region Europe And Central Asia
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