Five convicted in Russia of murdering journalist Anna Politkovskaya


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The Independent Online

Five men have been convicted of murdering the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya eight years after she was gunned down in the lobby of her Moscow apartment building.

The death of Ms Politkovskaya, a strong critic of the Kremlin, and the 2009 acquittal of three men drew international condemnation.

The Russian Supreme Court subsequently threw out the acquittals and ordered a new trial.

The defendants were three Chechen brothers as well as their uncle and a former police officer.

Their convictions this week are a victory for Russian prosecutors and the state, but human rights activists and Ms Politkovskaya's relatives said justice would not be done until those who ordered her contract-style killing are identified and convicted.

“The murder will only be solved when the name of the person who ordered it is known,” a lawyer for Ms Politkovskaya's family, Anna Stavitskaya, told the RIA news agency.

She welcomed the jury's verdict but said the men found guilty “are only a few of the people who should be brought to justice”.

A spokesman for the Federal Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin, said the authorities were doing all they can to identify and track down the person behind the killing.

Kremlin critics say they doubt that will ever happen because of suspicions the trail could lead too close to the government.

Ms Politkovskaya, a reporter for Novaya Gazeta who was 48 when she was shot dead while returning home after shopping for groceries, was best known for her dogged reporting on human rights violations in the North Caucasus province of Chechnya.

Lawyers for the defendants - Rustam Makhmudov, his brothers Ibragim and Dzhabrail, their uncle Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, and former Moscow police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov - said they would appeal.

Investigators say Gaitukayev organised the logistics of the killing while in jail for another matter, while Khadzhikurbanov was in charge of preparing for the killing and Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov helped track her.

Ibragim, Dzhabrail Makhmudov and Khadzhikurbanov were previously acquitted.

The five men will be sentenced by a judge at a later date and could face life in prison. Prosecutors will recommend sentences at a court hearing on Wednesday.