Russia arrests suspected Politkovskaya killer: lawyer

31st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia has arrested the fugitive suspected assassin of journalist Anna Politkovskaya nearly five years after she was shot dead in a crime that shocked the world, his family's lawyer said on Tuesday.

Rustam Makhmudov was arrested Monday night in Chechnya at the home of his parents, lawyer of the family Saidakhmet Arsamerzayev told AFP.

"We are expecting that he will be taken to Moscow," he said, adding that that the defence would seek to disprove key video evidence said to show the face of Makhmudov.

"I have always said that investigators don't really need to arrest Rustam, because his arrest will not confirm that he is the killer," Arsamerzayev said.

"Right now it is clear that Rustam was not difficult to capture. He was hiding of course, but even so, he was taken at his house," he said.

Police sources told Russian news agencies that Makhmudov was captured on Tuesday morning in Achkhoi-Martan district of Chechnya, southwest of capital Grozny.

The bitterly anti-Kremlin reporter, who won international prizes for her reports for the opposition Novaya Gazeta newspaper from Chechnya, was shot dead in her apartment building after returning from shopping on October 7, 2006.

The news was welcomed by the Novaya Gazeta. "Rustam Makhmudov is most likely the person who carried out the murder of Anna Politkovskaya," deputy editor Sergei Sokolov told RIA Novosti.

Rustam Makhmudov's brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim, and former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov have been investigated for several years over suspected involvement in the killing.

All three were acquitted on a lack of evidence in a jury trial in 2009, but the verdict was annulled by the supreme court and a new investigation reopened with the same suspects.

Rustam Makhmudov is suspected of being the killer and had been on the run until now. The mastermind of the killing has never been found in an investigation that has been widely criticised abroad.

Politkovskaya had written dozens of articles for the Novaya Gazeta and a book called "Putin's Russia" accusing the Russian strongman Vladimir Putin of using the Chechen conflict to strangle democracy in the country.

Putin said in the days after her murder that the killing was "an unacceptable crime that cannot go unpunished" but also described her ability to influence political life in Russia as "insignificant".

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article