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Slain Russian reporter’s children boycott ‘illegitimate trial’

The children of murdered anti-Kremlin Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya on Tuesday said they would boycott the “illegitimate” trial of five suspects as they had not been consulted over the composition of the jury.

Politkovskaya was shot dead in October 2006 in a killing linked to her crusading reporting in the restive Northern Caucasus. But almost seven years on, the legal process is only just starting to move.

The jury trial of the five — four Chechens and a former Moscow police officer — is due to start on Wednesday at Moscow city court.

But Politkovskaya’s children Ilya and Vera said in a statement that the court had chosen the jury without consulting them and rushed the trial date knowing full well they both could not take part on that date as they were outside Moscow.

“In this way, the court has violated our legal rights,” they said in a statement quoted by the Interfax news agency.

“We have waited almost seven years for the killers to stand trial but the state could not wait a few days. Tomorrow, (Wednesday) a patently illegitimate process begins,” they added.

“We refuse to take part in such a trial,” they added, calling on the jurors to recuse themselves.

Moscow city court spokeswoman Anna Usacheva told Interfax that the selection of the jury was done in full compliance with the law.

The defendants include four Chechens — Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, who is accused of organising the crime along with his three nephews, Rustam, Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov — and a former Moscow police officer, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov.

Rustam Makhmudov, who was arrested after being on the run, is suspected of gunning down Politkovskaya.

Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov and Khadzhikurbanov have already been tried and acquitted over the affair. The supreme court then halted a retrial, sending the case back for more investigation.

Another former police officer, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December for tracking Politkovskaya and providing the murder weapon.

Critics of the investigation have said that even with the alleged organiser and assassin set to stand trial, the mastermind of the killing is still at large and has never been publicly named.

Politkovskaya made powerful enemies with her fearless reporting and exposure of atrocities carried out by pro-Kremlin armed groups in Chechnya.