Murdered Russian's family turns to Europe

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The Independent Online

More than 10 years after one of Russia's most high profile investigative journalists was blown up by a briefcase bomb, his parents have said they had no choice but to take the unsolved case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Yuri and Zoya Kholodov were speaking after Russia's Supreme Court definitively acquitted six men of murdering Dmitry Kholodov, then 27, in October 1994. The ruling cannot be appealed against in Russia since the crime took place too long ago. "We are sure they are guilty of the death of our son," the dead journalist's father said after the verdict. "Nobody can convince us otherwise." Russia's justice system had failed his son, he added.

Dmitry Kholodov was investigating corruption in the Russian armed forces at the time of his death, more specifically, claims that the top brass were illegally profiteering from the sale of surplus weapons.

He died after an anonymous caller phoned him claiming to have crucial evidence. Mr Kholodov, a reporter for the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily, picked up a briefcase purportedly containing the evidence at a Moscow train station.

When he opened it back at his office it blew up in his face, killing him. Six men, including four members of an elite paratroop unit, were charged with his murder but were acquitted in two separate trials.

Investigators proved the defence minister of the time, Pavel Grachev, had told one of the defendants "to deal with" the reporter but Mr Grachev has insisted his words were not an order to kill the journalist, but to "reach an understanding with him". Pavel Popovskikh, a senior paratroop officer accused of masterminding the killing, said yesterday he was "satisfied" with his acquittal.