Four years on, Russia extends Politkovskaya probe

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Russia on Wednesday asked for more time to investigate the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, amid few signs of tangible progress in the probe four years after her death.

The chief investigator's office said in a statement a day before the anniversary of the journalist's death that it planned to extend the long-running probe until February next year.

Politkovskaya, an outspoken critic of the Kremlin in her writing for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, was shot at the entrance to her central Moscow apartment on October 7, 2006. No one has been brought to justice for the crime.

Investigators said they were looking for several people "who could be involved in the murder" and had sent requests for legal help to "several European countries."

Two Chechen brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov, and former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov are being investigated as suspected organisers of the killing.

All three were acquitted on lack of evidence in a jury trial, but the verdict was overturned. Shortly after the case reopened last August, the Supreme Court sent it back to the prosecutors for further investigation.

A third brother, Rustam Makhmudov, was the suspected hitman and is on the run.

Khadzhikurbanov, who was sentenced to eight years in a prison camp for extorting money from a witness, has been sent to Moscow to meet investigators, Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper reported Wednesday, citing a source in the chief investigator's office.

Politkovskaya's supporters will hold an annual protest in her memory on the fourth anniversary of her death on Thursday at 4:03 pm (12:03 GMT) at the Chistiye Prudy park in central Moscow.

© 2010 AFP

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