Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Politkovskaya murder case opens

(From left to right): Suspects Ibragim Makhmudov, Sergey Khadzhikurbanov and Dzhabrail Makhmudov in court
None of the suspects is accused of carrying out the murder or ordering it

Three men have gone on trial in Moscow charged with involvement in the murder of prominent Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006.

The capital's military court ruled that the trial would be open to public.

The suspected killer remains at large, and Ms Politkovskaya's supporters say there is little likelihood the trial will reveal who ordered her killing.

Ms Politkovskaya, a Kremlin critic, was shot dead outside her home in Moscow on 7 October 2006.


The three defendants who went on trial are former policeman Sergey Khadzhikurbanov and two Chechen brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov.

The people in the dock are just the underdogs
Anna Politkovskaya's son Ilya

A court spokesman told the BBC he could not specify exactly what charges the men were facing, although none of them was accused of either carrying out the murder or ordering it.

Another man, an officer with the country's security service, also appeared before the military court. Pavel Ryaguzov is charged with abuse of office and extortion.

Meanwhile, investigators say Rustan Makhmudov - who is believed to have fired the fatal shot - and the person or persons who ordered Mr Politkovskaya's killing remain at large.

On Monday, the court decided that the trial would be open to the public, after requests from both Ms Politkovskaya's relatives and friends, and the defendants' lawyers.

Earlier, some of Ms Politkovskaya's colleagues described the trial as a "farce".

Anna Politkovskaya (file image)
Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead on her doorstep

"How can you say the investigation is complete if you have neither the killer nor the person who ordered it in the dock?" Russian journalist Grigory Pasko said.

The murder of Ms Politkovskaya, who wrote for the small-circulation Novaya Gazeta, shocked the international community but did not register widely in Russia.

Ms Politkovskaya had frequently travelled to Chechnya and the North Caucasus where her dispatches described some of the horror of a war where most of the casualties were civilians.

She was the 13th journalist to be killed in a contract-style killing in Russia during Vladimir Putin's period as president, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Mr Putin - who had served maximum two consecutive terms in office - was succeeded by Dmitry Medvedev in May.

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