Klebnikov trial postponed because of a bomb threat

New York, February 16, 2006—A bomb threat halted the trial today of two Chechens charged with killing Forbes-Russia Editor Paul Klebnikov. The hearing, which is closed to the public, will resume February 20, local media reported.

Bailiffs cleared the Moscow City Court after the threat which police are investigating. The trial of Kazbek Dukuzov and Musa Vakhayev had resumed on Wednesday with a new judge after the previous judge fell ill.

The new judge, Vladimir Usov, rejected a defense appeal to open the hearings to the public saying that some evidence was classified, local press reports said.

In addition to the 2004 killing of Klebnikov, an American journalist of Russian descent, Dukuzov and Vakhayev are charged with contract killings, extortion, robbery, and membership in a criminal gang, according to press reports. A third defendant, Fail Sadretdinov, is being tried alongside Dukuzov and Vakhayev on a separate charge.

“Each day there is a new development that could undermine public confidence in these proceedings it serves as a reminder of why the trial should be open to the public, Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

For more information on Klebnikov’s case, read http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/europe/russia15feb06na.html