Disabled Russian editor answers slander charges
The editor of a Russian newspaper left disabled after a brutal attack in 2008 appeared in court on Tuesday, still barely able to talk, to answer charges of slander, news agencies reported.
Mikhail Beketov, editor of the Khimkinskaya Pravda weekly published in the district of Khimki outside Moscow, sustained brain damage in the November 2008 attack which also forced the amputation of a lower leg and fingers.
He had been following controversial plans to build a highway through the forest in Khimki, an issue also covered by Kommersant reporter Oleg Kashin who was severely beaten at the weekend in an attack that shocked Russia.
Beketov, 52, is on trial for slander after in September 2007 in a television interview he accused the mayor of Khimki, Vladimir Strelchenko, of being involved in a bid to blow up his car.
Strelchenko sued and prosecutors Tuesday asked the court to fine Beketov the relatively nominal sum of 3,000 rubles (100 dollars).
But despite the huge interest surrounding the case after the attack on Kashin, Strelchenko said he had no intention of withdrawing his complaint.
"For the petition to be withdrawn there need to be certain reasons. Today I do not see such reasons," he said in court according to the Interfax news agency.
"What happened to him (Beketov) is terrible. I can only on pass my sympathies," he added during a court appearance that lasted 15 minutes.
The ITAR-TASS news agency said Beketov also rapidly left the courtroom due to his poor health and his injuries meant that he was barely able to communicate with his lawyer.
He has undergone eight operations and has to live in a clinic.
The attack on Kashin raised fears that journalists following the Khimki forest controversy were being singled out by criminals. The road project has been put on hold by President Dmitry Medvedev pending a review.
The case into the unknown individuals who attacked Beketov has never been solved.
© 2010 AFP