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Suspected journalist murder mastermind denies guilt

August 25, 2011, 11:34 UTC+3

On Wednesday, Pavlyuchenkov was convoyed to Moscow's Basmanny court which may sanction his arrest

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MOSCOW, August 25 (Itar-Tass) — Retired police Colonel Dmitry Pavlyuchenko, suspected of masterminding the murder of Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya, flatly denied his involvement in the crime, his lawyer Tamara Kuchma told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

"My client categorically denies his guilt in Politkovskaya murder and rejects any versions related to his involvement in the crime," Kushma said, underlining that he is still a suspect and that "no charges have been brought yet."

On Wednesday, Pavlyuchenkov was convoyed to Moscow's Basmanny court which may sanction his arrest.

He was detained on August 22 during an interrogation, and is now in a remand ward.

At the first trial over the murder of Politkovskaya, Pavlyuchenkov testified as a witness.

According to the Novaya Gazeta, he is "trying to mislead the investigators regarding his involvement in the murder, by shielding himself as a crucial source of information, who learnt about the crime from defendants' talk."

"It was Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov’s statement that initiated a criminal case against his former friend Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, whom Pavlyuchenkov accused of extorting a large sum of money," the newspaper writes.

Investigative Committee (SK) spokesman Vladimir Markin said "the investigators ascertained that Pavlyuchenkov got an order to organize the murder of Politkovskaya for remuneration, and set up a criminal group, recruiting three Makhmudov brothers and other persons," the spokesman said.

Pavlyuchenkov, as unit head for surveillance at office # 4 at Moscow's operations/search department, ordered his subordinates to monitor the journalist to find out her daily routes in the city.

"He later purchased weapons, worked out a plan, and assigned a role to each of his accomplices in preparing and perpetrating the murder.

"The information obtained by Pavlyuchenkov and the weapon of murder were passed to perpetrator Rustam Makhmudov and his accomplices, who had been tailing Anna Politkovskaya several days before the crime," Markin said.

"It should be noted that the entire picture of the crime was established through investigation. I should say the investigators also have information about the person who ordered the crime, but they believe it is premature to commit this information to the mass media," the SK spokesman underlined.

The Novaya Gazeta's deputy editor-in-chief Sergei Sokolov said "it is just a version," adding that "the Novaya Gazeta has a version of its own."

On October 7, 2006, Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya was killed in a stairwell of her apartment house in Lesnaya Street, central Moscow.

The murder was committed at around 16:00, Moscow time. The killer fired five shots at the journalist. He went out of the house, sat in a VAZ-21043 car waiting for him near the Novoslobodskaya subway station, and escaped together with his accomplices.

Murder charges were brought against former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov. A separate case was opened against the fourth suspect – Rustam Makhmudov – who the investigators believe was the perpetrator of the crime.

Rustam Makhmudov was on the Interpol wanted list from 1997. On May 31, he was detained in Chechnya in the house of his relatives, thanks to cooperation with police in Belgium, where the suspect had been hiding before returning to Russia.

On February 20, 2009, the Moscow military district court acquitted the three defendants on the strength of the jury verdict.

On June 25, 2009, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict and sent the case for retrial which began on August 5, 2009.

In February 2010, Khadzhikurbanov was sentenced to 8 years for extorting 350,000 dollars within another case.

The deadline for investigation was moved in February.

In October 2010, the SK reported "other persons who might been involved in the murder have been ascertained." It said it had requested a number of European countries to provide legal assistance.


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