Anna Politkovskaya murder – accused acquitted, investigation must continue
The jury in the Anna Politkovskaya murder trial has acquitted all those charged with involvement in the murder. 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 Anna Politkovskaya's children, said after the trial that the investigation had been weak and that the defence of the accused had been much stronger. A spokesperson for Amnesty International said that the investigation into the murder of the human rights journalist must continue with renewed vigour. "The end of the trial does not lift the onus from the authority to find the murderer and his sponsors," said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International. "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," 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." "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," said Nicola Duckworth. Anna Politkovskaya was murdered on 7 October 2006 in Moscow. She had 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 about the armed conflict in Chechnya and the North Caucasus in 1999, she was detained and threatened with serious reprisals, including death threats, on several occasions. At least 12 people have been detained in connection with the murder since late August 2007, 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 render a verdict about the participation of brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov and former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov in the murder. Sergei Khadzhikurbanov had also been accused of detaining and ill-treating businessman Eduard Ponikarov together with FSB officer Pavel Riaguzov. Amnesty International attended a large part of the hearings into the murder case.