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Russia: 'Investigation must continue' call in wake of Politkovskaya trial acquittals

The investigation into the murder of human rights journalist Anna Politkovskaya must continue with renewed vigour, Amnesty International said today as a jury in a Moscow military district court acquitted all those charged with involvement in her murder.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Programme Director Nicola Duckworth said:

“The relevant Russian authorities shouldn’t stop here. They need to continue the investigation into the murder and to bring to justice all those involved, including the gunman and those who ordered the killing.

“The end of the trial does not lift the onus from the authority to find the murderer and his sponsors. Delivering justice for the murder of Anna Politkovskaya will demonstrate that the Russian authorities have the political will to end the silencing of human rights defenders.”

The jury stated that they did not find proof of guilt in the evidence provided by the investigation. Anna Stavitskaia, one of the representatives of the Children's rights of Anna Politkovskaya, noted after the trial that the investigation had been weak and that the defence of the accused had been much stronger.

In her address to the jury a few days before the decision, lawyer Karinna Moskalenko, also representing the Children's rights of Anna Politkovskaya, said:

“Anna hated impunity and lawlessness and she would not have wanted to see someone who committed a serious crime go free. At the same time, she would not have wanted at all to see someone being sentenced for a crime, he did not commit.”

Since late August 2007 at least 12 people have been detained in connection with Anna Politkovskaya’s murder but several were later released. The publicly named suspects in the case include officials from the Ministry of Interior, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and a former head of a local administration in Chechnya.

During the jury trial, which started in November 2008, the members of the jury had to come to a conclusion about the participation in the murder and the guilt of Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov and Sergei Khadzhikurbanov. The later, a former police officer had also been accused of having detained and ill-treated businessman Eduard Ponikarov together with FSB officer Pavel Riaguzov.

Amnesty International attended a large part of the hearings into the murder case.

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