Russian reporter’s children boycott murder trial
A Russian jury on Wednesday began hearing the case against five men suspected over the murder of anti-Kremlin reporter Anna Politkovskaya, despite a boycott of the trial by her children and their lawyers.
Judge Pavel Melekhin of the Moscow City Court declined to postpone the trial as requested by Politkovskaya’s two children, who had warned the court that they would not be available to attend proceedings this week.
Politkovskaya’s children have also complained that as the injured party their legal rights have been violated because they were not consulted over the composition of the jury.
“We have waited almost seven years for the killers to stand trial but the state could not wait a few days,” Politkovskaya’s daughter Vera and her son Ilya wrote in a statement published in the pages of their late mother’s newspaper, the Novaya Gazeta.
“We refuse to take part in such a trial,” the siblings said, calling on their legal representatives to also boycott the proceedings.
The case has dragged on for seven years after Politkovskaya was shot dead in 2006, in a killing linked to her reporting in the North Caucasus.
At the first session, the defendants pleaded not guilty after the judge declined to postpone the jury trial until the injured party and their lawyers can be present.
Some of the defendants also asked for their detention conditions to be improved, the Novaya Gazeta reported from the hearing.
Prosecutors accuse Chechen Lom-Ali Gaitukayev of organising a criminal group with his three nephews — Rustam, Ibragim, and Dzhabrail Makhmudov — to kill Politkovskaya.
Two police officers, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov and Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, are accused of providing information about her address and schedule.
Pavlyuchenkov was already convicted and sentenced to 11 years last December after he gave information about other suspects. However the investigation never found out the mastermind of the crime.
The defence earlier asked the judge to move the trial to a later date so that Politkovskaya’s children and their lawyers, who are both abroad, could also attend.
“The presence of the injured party is highly desirable if not required,” defence lawyer Murad Musayev was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.
“We categorically oppose the continuation of the hearing” without them, he added.
Politkovskaya made powerful enemies with her fearless reporting and exposure of atrocities carried out by pro-Kremlin armed groups in Chechnya.