New York, June 25, 2009–Russia’s Supreme Court today overturned the acquittals of three men accused of involvement in the October 2006 murder of Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya. A spokesman for the court said there were procedural violations during the trial, according to press reports.
In February, a 12-member jury in Moscow acquitted Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, a former police officer with the Moscow Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, and brothers Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov after a three-month trial. Among other violations, the high court found that the trial judge improperly admitted statements that compromised the jury’s impartiality.
“Prosecutors must present strong, solid evidence in a re-trial to convince jurors, and the public, of the three defendants’ involvement in this grave crime,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator
In an interview with CPJ, Novaya Gazeta Deputy Editor
“We are not saying that the three defendants had no culpability in
In an interview today with the independent Ekho Moskvy radio, Dzhabrail Makhmudov said that he and his brother, Ibragim, were ready to stand trial again. “We have never run in our lives and we are not going to run from this now,” he said. Authorities have identified a third Makhmudov brother, Rustam, as the gunman. Novaya Gazeta and others have reported that Rustam Makhmudov fled Russia on a fraudulent passport.
Russia is the third-deadliest country in the world for journalists, according to CPJ research, with 50 journalists killed on the job since 1992. Under the present Russian leadership, 17 journalists were killed in retaliation for their reporting. In only one of the murders–that of Novaya Gazeta‘s Igor Domnikov–have the killers been convicted; all of the masterminds remain at large.