Juror in Politkovskaya murder trial denies asking for closed courtroom

21st November 2008, Comments 0 comments

Juror Evgeny Kolesov says that while the court clerk had presented them with a form asking the trial be shut to the public, none of the jurors had signed the document.

Moscow -- A juror in the murder trial of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya on Thursday denied the judge's statement that the jury had asked for the press to be barred from the courtroom.

Judge Evegeny Zubov at Moscow's Military Court ruled Wednesday that the case be held behind closed doors, saying the jury had refused to hear the case under any other conditions.

Juror Evgeny Kolesov told radio station Ekho Moskvy that while the court clerk had presented them with a form asking the trial be shut to the public, none of the jurors had signed the document, according to a transcript of the radio interview.

"We said we would consider the question," Kolesov said. "The process should start with the assistance of the press, then we would decide. But there was no decision to exclude the press. None of us categorically made that demand."

Kolesov, who works as a municipal roof-repair man in Moscow, said he came forward after being "shocked" to hear the press reporting that the move to close the trial had come from the jury.

"It made us a laughing-stock: How could it be so, that the jury is afraid of the press," he said.

The jury issued a statement of correction Thursday, signed by 19 out of the 20 jurors, Kolesov said.

"We ask that the video and camera press be excluded but we do not have any objection to the presence of the print press," the statement read.

Both the defense and lawyers for Politkovskaya's family protested the judge's decision outside the courtroom Wednesday.

Judge Evgeny Zubov said his ruling had been made out of "consideration for the security of the participants in the trial and that of their families," news agency Interfax reported.

Four men are being tried in connection with the slaying of Politkovskaya, gunned down outside her Moscow apartment in October 2006.

But investigators are still hunting for the suspected triggerman in the contract killing.
The slain journalist's family and colleagues have sharply criticized the investigation, complaining that the defendants on trial are only loosely connected to the contract killing.

DPA/Expatica

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