Killer of rights activist alive and in Russia: investigator

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The killer of rights activist Natalya Estemirova is alive and in Russia, the country's chief investigator said Tuesday, cited by the RIA Novosti news agency.

"We know the perpetrator. We know his name. We are sure of his guilt," Alexander Bastrykin told a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international campaigning organisation.

Investigators have information that Estemirova's killer is in Russia, Bastrykin said, RIA Novosti reported. "We hope that we will soon detain him."

Estemirova, 50, was abducted outside her home in the Chechen capital of Grozny. Her body was found hours later riddled with bullet holes in neighbouring Ingushetia on July 15, 2009.

President Dmitry Medvedev said in July that the killer had been identified and was on an international wanted list, but gave no further details. Rights activists have expressed frustration at the slow pace of the investigation.

Estemirova's murder was the latest in a series of killings of rights defenders and critical reporters in Russia, most notably the 2006 shooting of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

© 2010 AFP

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