Russian court refuses to send Politkovskaya murder case files back to prosecutors

The Moscow City Court has rejected a petition from lawyers representing the defendants in the trial over the killing of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya who wanted the case files to be sent back to the Prosecutor's Office to correct violations.

Sergey Hajikurbanov, left, and Rustam Makhmudov, co-defendants charged with the murder of the Novaya Gazeta columnist Anna Politkovskaya, at the Moscow City Court. Source: RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich

Sergey Hajikurbanov, left, and Rustam Makhmudov, co-defendants charged with the murder of the Novaya Gazeta columnist Anna Politkovskaya, at the Moscow City Court. Source: RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich 

The Moscow City Court has rejected a petition from lawyers representing the defendants in the trial over the killing of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya who wanted the case files to be sent back to the Prosecutor's Office to correct violations, an Interfax correspondent reported. The selection of jurors for the Politkovskaya murder trial was set for June 20.

The jury trial, set to start on June 21, will be open to the media and the public. The jurors will work four days a week, from Monday to Thursday.

Politkovskaya was killed at the entrance to her apartment in Moscow on October 7, 2006.

It was reported earlier that the criminal investigation against five persons suspected in Politkovskaya's killing had been completed. They are Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, his nephews Rustam, Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov, as well as Sergei Khadzhikurbanov. They face charges of murder and illegal possession of weapons.

The criminal case against another suspect in the case, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who concluded a pre-trial cooperation agreement, was separated. Pavlyuchenkov has been sentenced to 11 years in maximum security penal colony for assistance in organizing the murder of Politkovskaya.

Pavlyuchenkov gave confessionary statements and concluded a deal with investigators. He said that businessman Boris Berezovsky and Chechen separatist emissary Akhmed Zakayev ordered the murder.

Rustam Makhmudov is considered to be the murderer. On May 31, 2011, Makhmudov was arrested in Chechnya and brought to Moscow for investigative procedures. Makhmudov has been charged under four articles of the Criminal Code: murder, illegal possession of weapons, kidnapping and extortion. His detention has been prolonged repeatedly.

Investigators believe that Lom-Ali Gaitukayev organized the crime. He created the group comprising other suspects in 2006. According to the Investigative Committee's information, the group then planned the murder of Politkovskaya in great detail, purchased weapons and coordinated actions, while "S. Khadzhikurbanov controlled all actions of the group."

"Having received the information where the victim lived from D. Pavlyuchenko, the Makhmudov brothers went to her route on October 7, 2006. Having seen the victim driving, I. Makhmudov informed his brother Dzhabrail, who then told Rustam, who went to the entrance of the building where Politkovskaya lived and started waiting for her to arrive," the Investigative Committee said.

According to investigators' information, when Politkovskaya stepped into the elevator, Makhmudov shot her several times.

"The crime instrument was left at the scene. The suspects fled after this," the Investigative Committee said.

Former Central Internal Affairs Directorate employee  Khadzhikurbanov is serving time for another case. He was brought to Moscow to participate in the Politkovskaya murder case. According to the law, the court is to impose a pre-trial restraint to sanction Khadzhikurbanov's detention.

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