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Council of Europe denounces Politkovskaya trial

Published on 21/02/2009

STRASBOURG - "The closure of the trial (on Thursday) can only be regarded as a blatant failure," Andrew McIntosh, media-freedom rapporteur of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly said in a statement after a Russian jury acquitted the four suspects.

The European assembly urged Russian lawmakers to monitor the progress of the criminal investigation into Politkovskaya’s murder "and hold the authorities accountable for any failures to investigate or prosecute.

"There are no excuses for these flawed investigations into murders of politically critical journalists writing against corruption and crime within government," McIntosh said, giving the examples of two other reporters slain in Ukraine and Russia.

Thursday’s acquittal has drawn harsh criticism from human rights groups and the international community, and the judge in the trial has ordered investigators to resume their probe into the case.

Politkovskaya, who had been highly critical of Russia’s strongman and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, was shot dead in the lift of her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006 after returning from a shopping trip.

None of the four men acquitted had been charged with her death or ordering the apparent contract killing.

Rights lawyers and activists say the case illustrates the impunity with which contract killers are allowed to operate in Russia.

AFP / Expatica