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New twist in Politkovskaya trial

21 November 08 14:43 GMT

The trial of three men suspected of involvement in the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been suspended, amid deepening controversy.

Judge Yevgeny Zubov postponed it for 10 days, after coming into dispute with both the jury and defence lawyers.

The latest bizarre twist adds to the impression that this trial is seriously compromised, a BBC correspondent says.

Supporters of the murdered Kremlin critic say the trial is already proving to be a farce.

On Monday the judge surprised everybody by ruling that the trial would be open to the public, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield Hayes in Moscow.

Two days later he reversed his decision, saying the jury had refused to appear in front of journalists.

But on Thursday a member of the jury called a Moscow radio station to deny any of them had made such a request.

The juror said they had objected to having TV cameras in court, but not text journalists.

Now the judge has suspended the case, saying defence lawyers are too busy - but they, too, are denying that is true.

Politkovskaya's supporters believe state security agents were involved in her murder - and for that reason, they say, there will never be a fair and open trial.

Politkovskaya, one of the most vociferous critics of former Russian President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead outside her Moscow apartment two years ago.

Three men are on trial - former policeman Sergey Khadzhikurbanov and two Chechen brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov.

But they are only charged with involvement in the plot - not with either carrying out the murder or ordering it.

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