Politkovskaya murder suspects to seek jury trial

The people accused of murdering Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya will ask for a jury trial.

We will certainly make a motion for a trial by jury. Legislation allows us to do so," Alexei Mikhalchik, a defense lawyer for one of the suspects, told Interfax.

According to the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure, a request for a jury trial cannot be rejected if the case in question can be tried by a jury, or if at least one of the defendants has asked for a jury trial.

Some of these suspects were previously acquitted of killing Politkovskaya by a jury at the Moscow District Military Court. Other suspects have been detained since then, including Rustam Makhmudov, who is accused of pulling the trigger. Apart from that, former police officer Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who acted as a witness in the previous trial, admitted his involvement in Politkovskaya's murder.

These five suspects "have a good chance of being acquitted," Mikhalchik said.

Pavlyuchenkov could receive a guilty verdict because a decision was made to handle his case separately after he agreed to cooperate with the investigation, the lawyer said.

If Pavlyuchenkov is convicted, it could help prove the guilt of the other defendants, "but even in this case the guilt of each suspect will be established individually," he said.

"It is a kind of PR move, an instrument for psychological pressure. I think that the prosecutor will try to use Pavlyuchenkov's conviction as a piece of evidence. But we will object to it," Mikhalchik said.

The Russian Investigative Committee has collected sufficient evidence to prove the guilt of five suspects accused of murdering Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

"Investigators have collected sufficient evidence to compile an indictment. And they have announced today that a preliminary inquiry has been completed and the suspects, their lawyers and the affected party have been notified," he told Interfax on Tuesday.

Representatives of the affected party will soon be invited to study the case files, he said.

"An investigation against those who ordered the crime and other as yet unidentified persons continues," Markin said.

He identified the suspects as the Makhmudov brothers, Rustam, Ibragim and Dzhabrail, Sergei Khadzhiburbanov and Lom-Ali Gaitukayev. Pavlyuchenkov's case is being investigated separately.

They face charges of murder and the illegal possession of weapons.

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