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Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 22:26 GMT 23:26 UK
Chechens freed in Forbes killing
Paul Klebnikov
Klebnikov was shot in a Moscow street in July 2004
A Moscow court has acquitted two Chechen men of murdering American journalist Paul Klebnikov.

Klebnikov was editor of the Russian edition of Forbes business magazine, which had tackled the issue of corruption in Russia's powerful elite.

He was shot dead in what appeared to be a contract killing as he left his Moscow office in July 2004.

Prosecutors had alleged that the two men carried out the killing on behalf of a former Chechen rebel leader.

They said fugitive Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, who had featured in a book Klebnikov had written, had paid a criminal gang to kill him.

But a jury at the Moscow City Court voted to acquit Kazbek Dukuzov, 32, and Musa Vakhayev, 42, who were both charged with the actual shooting death of Klebnikov.

A third suspect, Fail Sadretdinov, faced charges of attempted murder in a separate case and organising the gang alleged to have killed the journalist. He was also acquitted.

The men had denied the charges against them.

'Not satisfied'

The trial began in January and took place behind closed doors.

Relatives of the men cheered and applauded at the acquittal. Outside the court, Mr Dukuzov said he was "grateful to the entire Russian people".

Klebnikov's family said in a statement that it respected the outcome of the trial, but urged the Russian government to continue its investigation "with renewed vigour".

"We will not be satisfied until justice is served and the individual or individuals who ordered Paul's killing are found out and brought to trial," Klebnikov's brother Michael said.

Prosecutor Dmitry Shokin said the state might appeal against the verdict.

Klebnikov's death caused an international outcry and led to speculation that it might have been linked to investigations he was involved in regarding the Russian business world.

A New Yorker of Russian origin, Klebnikov had worked for Forbes for more than 13 years. The Russian edition of the magazine had been launched earlier in 2004.

It had published a list of the country's wealthiest people and claimed that Moscow had more billionaires than any other city in the world.


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