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Moscow court to select jurors to review journalist murder case

June 20, 2013, 4:27 UTC+3

The judge plans to hold hearings four times a week

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MOSCOW, June 20 (Itar-Tass) - The Moscow City Court on Thursday will select jurors to try the case over the murder of Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya.

Judge Pavel Melekhin said if the jurors were selected on Thursday, the hearings on the merit would begin as early as June 21.

The judge plans to hold hearings four times a week. The defendants' lawyers resented "the haste," saying they would seek to recuse the judge because "he's interested in the outcome of the case."

Representative of the injured parties Anna Stavitskaya also said she was surprised at the judge's "rashness."

The defendants are Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, his nephews /brothers Rustan, Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov/ and Sergei Khadzhikurbanov. They are accused of murder and illegal turnover of weapons. Rustam Makhmudov is also accused of abduction in Moscow in 1996 and extortion.

Anna Politkovskaya was killed in the elevator of her apartment house in October, 2006.

The investigator said Gaitukayev had masterminded the crime. In 2006, he set up an organized group to which he recruited other defendants and police officer Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov. Gaitukayev was gang leader until he was detained for masterminding an assassination attempt on the life of businessman Gennady Korban. He was convicted and is now serving a sentence. In prison, he controlled actions by gang members by telephone; and in Moscow, the crime was masterminded by Sergei Khadzhikurbanov.

"The defendants carefully planned the journalist's murder; they purchased arms and coordinated their actions," Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said earlier.

After receiving information from Pavlyuchenkov about the victim's address, the Makhmudov brothers took positions along the route she was taking on October 7, 2006. As Ibragim Makhmudov saw the victim in the driver's seat, he reported it to his brother Dzhabrail, and the latter passed this information to Rustam, who entered the house where Politkovskaya lived and prepared to ambush her. When the journalist entered the elevator, Rustam Makhmudov shot her several times. The weapon of murder was left the scene. The defendants then fled.

The criminal case against Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who had signed a plea bargain agreement, was reviewed separately. Pavlyuchenkov was sentenced to 11 years in a maximum security penitentiary.

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