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Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 17:17 UK

New delay in Politkovskaya case

Murder suspect Dzhabrail Makhmudov (second left) with lawyers
None of those on trial is suspected of pulling the trigger

A retrial over the killing of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been adjourned, following a complaint by her relatives.

The judge in Moscow is to consider the family's plea for the case to be sent back to prosecutors and for a new investigation to be launched.

The retrial began on Wednesday. Three men are in the dock, accused of being accessories to the 2006 murder.

Their lawyers accepted the adjournment. The next hearing will be on Friday.

Russia's Supreme Court ordered a retrial over procedural violations.

Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov had been acquitted in February of involvement in Ms Politkovskaya's death.

Alleged killer at large

Ms 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 October 2006.

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

The Kremlin has dismissed such claims.

None of the three men standing trial in Moscow is accused of being the actual killer.

Anna Politkovskaya (file image)
Ms Politkovskaya was shot in her apartment building in 2006

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

One of the family's lawyers, Karina Moskalenko, said "the crime is not solved yet. The investigation has not come to any final conclusions and that is why we made all these appeals today".

"Our goal is to not let the crime go unpunished, our goal is to see the investigation completed and the crime solved."

The family's lawyers have now asked the judge to consider merging this case with the investigation into Rustam Makhmudov.

Legal wrangling

Defence lawyer Murad Musayev said he would not try to prevent the case going back to the prosecutors.

"Sending it back to the prosecutors will not permit an objective inquiry, but despite this I will not oppose the request," he said.

The Supreme Court decision to order a retrial - taking place at the same military court in Moscow where the first trial was held - came after prosecutors appealed against the original not-guilty verdicts.

The trial procedure was also strongly criticised by Russian journalists and human rights groups.

Ms Politkovskaya's supporters have always said that even guilty verdicts would not be satisfactory while the killer remains at large.

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.



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