Khadzhikurbanov's lawyer asks to stop his prosecution in connection with Politkovskaya case

The defense lawyers for Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, former Interior Ministry official, who is suspected of masterminding the killing of Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, demand that the investigators stop his prosecution.

"We are asking for the criminal prosecution of Sergei Khadzhikurbanov in this case to be stopped due to his non-involvement in this crime," lawyer Alexei Mikhalchuk told Interfax.

The lawyer said he has sent an appropriate request to the investigators.

The lawyer said the request in question was made after Khadzhikurbanov's face-to-face interrogation with another suspected mastermind of the crime, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov.

"Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov tried very hard to convince the investigators that he had no reason to falsely testify against Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, but said during the face-to-face interrogation that my client 'wanted to bring his child's head on a dish.' I believe Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov's confidence about this fact is an extremely serious and objective reason for a false testimony," Mikhalchuk said.

"Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov alleges that he has always testified about Sergei Khadzhikurbanov's involvement in this crime, but overtime he began remembering new details, which he told the investigators. I think the statement that people's memories of events improve overtime cannot be taken seriously," the lawyer said.

"All these things indicate that Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, using his law enforcement experience, proposed an illogical theory of Sergei Khadzhikurbanov's involvement in the Politkovskaya killing, which is extremely hard to check," he said.

The lawyer said he is convinced that Pavlyuchenkov is deliberately trying to convince the investigators of Khadzhikurbanov's involvement in the killing "in retaliation or being guided by the motive to help the investigators, which he interprets falsely."

The lawyer said that "Khadzhikurbanov did not communicate with the persons charged with directly fulfilling the objective aspect of this crime in the period prior to the Politkovskaya killing, which is indicated by transcripts of his phone conversations possessed by the investigators. Sergei Khadzhikurbanov did not visit places close to the victim's routes in the period prior to the killing, which is indicated by transcripts of his phone conversations possessed by the investigators," he said.

Politkovskaya was killed in the lobby of her apartment building in Moscow on October 7, 2006. The investigation into her death is continuing.

It is believed that the crime was perpetrated by Rustam Makhmudov. On May 31, 2011, he was arrested in Chechnya and brought to Moscow for questioning. He has been charged with homicide, illicit arms trafficking, kidnapping and extortion. It emerged in August that former Police Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov was arrested on suspicion of organizing the murder.

The current priority theory is that the hit on the journalist was ordered by Chechen man Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, who set up a criminal group for committing the crime, which included Pavlyuchenkov, the Makhmudov brothers and Khadzhikurbanov.

On October 27, 2011, the Main Investigative Directorate of the Russian Investigative Committee charged former Organized Crime Unit officer Khadzhikurbanov with organizing the murder motivated by the victim's professional activities. According to the inquiry, Khadzhikurbanov was involved in spying on the reporter and organizing her murder.

Pavlyuchenkov is cooperating with the investigation, and his case will likely be separated from the Politkovskaya murder case. He claimed that he had gotten involved in the crime involuntarily, as he "did not know who I was shadowing and did not think that the reason I was doing this was that Politkovskaya's murder was being plotted."

Pavlyuchenkov is currently under house arrest.

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