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Politkovskaya murder case suspect to go on trial

November 15, 2012, 18:56 UTC+3

Pavlyuchenkov, a former police officer, was charged with murder as a member of a criminal group, and illegal keeping of firearms

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MOSCOW, November 15 (Itar-Tass) — The Prosecutor General's Office /PGO/ sent to a court the criminal case against Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, suspected of involvement in the murder of Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya, PGO spokeswoman Marina Gridneva told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

"Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Grin endorsed the indictment in the criminal case against Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov," Gridneva said.

The Moscow City Court is to review the case under plea bargain agreement.

Pavlyuchenkov, a former police officer, was charged with murder as a member of a criminal group, and illegal keeping of firearms.

The special procedure implies that a court will hold a hearing without inquest, and that the penalty for the defendant cannot exceed two thirds of the maximum prison term.

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

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.

Chechnya native Lom-Ali Gaitukayev is suspected of masterminding the murder. In July 2006, he took a contract from an unidentified person to murder Politkovskaya for remuneration. To this end, he set up a criminal group which comprised former police officer Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, Gaitukayev's three nephews Makhmudovs and organized crime police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov.

Pavlyuchenkov, as head of surveillance unit, 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, the investigators said. His accomplices had to hand over the surveillance over Politkovskaya to the Makhmudov brothers in early October 2006.

After Gaitukayev's arrest and subsequent conviction for 12 years for an assassination attempt in Ukraine, Khadzhikurbanov became the group's leader.

"Pavlyuchenkov pleaded guilty to the charges and identified the firearm found at the scene of crime, which he had passed to Rustam Makhmudov. During preliminary investigation, Pavlyuchenkov asked the PGO for plea bargain. His request was granted on August 31, 2011," Gridneva said.

"The case materials show that Pavlyuchenkov's guilt in the murder of Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya is confirmed by the testimony of numerous witnesses and other evidence gathered within the criminal case," the spokeswoman noted.

The criminal case against the persons who had ordered the contract hit, is investigated separately.

The Politkovskaya case has already been reviewed by a court. Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov and Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, accused of abetting the crime, were acquitted by the Moscow district military court on the strength of jurors' verdict in February 2009. Later, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict and sent the case for reinvestigation.

Rustam Makhmudov was detained in Achkhoi-Martan, Chechnya, on May 31, 2011.

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