Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 11:10 UK

Politkovskaya case to be retried

Undated photo of Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow (Handout: Novaya Gazeta)
Anna Politkovskaya exposed Russian excesses in Chechnya

Russia's Supreme Court has overturned the acquittal of three men accused of involvement in the 2006 killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

The court ordered that the three men face a retrial.

Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov were acquitted in February after a trial that critics said was farcical.

Politkovskaya was a staunch critic of the Kremlin and her supporters allege official involvement in her death.

The Kremlin has dismissed such claims.

Suspect at large

The Supreme Court decision came after prosecutors appealed against the not guilty verdicts handed down by a Moscow court.

The process of the trial was strongly criticised by Russian journalists and human rights groups.

Even so, Politkovskaya's supporters have always said that even guilty verdicts would not have been satisfactory.

Chechen brothers Dzhabrail (L) and Ibragim Makhmudov leave a court in Moscow, 19 Feb
Two Chechen brothers were among three men acquitted in the trial

None of the three was accused of being the actual killer.

The suspected gunman, Rustam Makhmudov - brother of two of the other suspects - has still not been caught. And campaigners say it is those who ordered the killing that they really want to see in the dock.

Politkovskaya, who gained prominence by exposing human rights abuses by the Russian army in Chechnya, was shot dead in the entrance hall of her apartment building in Moscow in 2006.

The Supreme Court ordered the retrial to take place at the same military court in Moscow where the first trial was held.

A lawyer for the defendants described the decision as "political" and said he would contest it in the European Court of Human Rights.

Meanwhile the lawyer representing Anna Politskovskaya's family also denounced the Supreme Court's ruling, saying they had not been seeking to overturn the acquittal.

The family had agreed that the prosecution had failed to put together a convincing case against the three men.

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