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Court might extend custody for suspected journalist's killer

September 05, 2011, 13:17 UTC+3

"I don't have anything to hide from the mass media," Makhmudov said

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MOSCOW, September 5 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow's Basmanny Court met in camera on Monday to consider extending custody for Chechnya resident Rustam Makhmudov, accused of the murder of Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya.

The court thereby met the investigator's petition requesting a hearing behind closed doors, because "the case contains information that should not be made public."

The prosecutor supported the investigator's position.

Makhmudov voiced his objections at the hearing. "What do we have to conceal?" he asked the investigator. He called the charges against him unsubstantiated.

"I don't have anything to hide from the mass media," he said.

But the judge decided to hold the hearing behind closed doors.

At the beginning of the court's session, when reporters were still in the courtroom, Makhmudov was flashing smiles and joking. When he was led into the prisoner's dock, he chanted "Allah Akbar" four times.

Rustam Makhmudov, 37, was on the Interpol wanted list from 1997. On May 31, he was detained in Chechnya's district Achkhoi-Martain.

The suspect had been hiding in Belgium before returning to Russia.

He is accused under Article 105, Part 2 (murder), Article 22, Part 1 (illegal turnover of weapons), Article 125.1, Part 2 and Article 148, Part 3 (kidnapping and extortion). The first Criminal Code article envisions up to life imprisonment.

The investigators said Makhmudov is the perpetrator of the murder. He is also accused of abduction and extortions of property under the threat of violence in Moscow in the mid 1990s.

According to the investigators, Lom-ali Gaitukayev might have masterminded the murder.

"The investigators said Lom-ali Gaitukayev received an order from an unidentified person to murder Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya for remuneration in July 2006. To this end, Gaitukayev set up a criminal group (which included Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who was Lieutenant Colonel of Moscow police at the time), Gaitukayev's nephews Makhmudovs and former Moscow police officer from the organized crime department Sergei Khadzhikurbanov who had served out his prison by September 2006," Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

Markin earlier said the investigators have information about the suspect who had ordered the murder.

Gaitukayev, as well as Pavlyuchenkov, was a witness at the previous trial. He stated that two million dollars had been paid for Politkovskaya's murder.

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.

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.


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