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Supreme court to review appeal in journalist murder case

February 28, 2013, 9:51 UTC+3

The appeal, lodged by the convicted person's lawyer Karen Nersesyan, asks to soften the verdict and give a suspended sentence to Pavlyuchenkov

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MOSCOW, February 28 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian Supreme Court on Thursday will review an appeal against the verdict for Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, sentenced to 11 years in a maximum security penitentiary for complicity in the murder of Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya in the autumn of 2006.

The appeal, lodged by the convicted person's lawyer Karen Nersesyan, asks to soften the verdict and give a suspended sentence to Pavlyuchenkov. The sentence handed down by the court of original jurisdiction is "unjust and too harsh," Nersesyan said.

Meanwhile, the injured parties said the verdict for Pavlyuchenkov was too soft, and did not match the gravity of the crime. Also, the injured parties were opposed to the review of the case against Pavlyuchenkov under special procedure.

The Supreme Court postponed the review of the appeal on February 14 because Pavlyuchenkov had had an epilepsy fit and had been rushed to hospital.

Pavlyuchenkov was charged under Article 105, part 2 and Article 222, Part 3 /"murder of person performing his service duties by a group of persons under contract, and illegal turnover of weapons"/. He case was heard under special procedure where a court holds a hearing without inquest, and the penalty for the defendant cannot exceed two thirds of the maximum prison term.

On December 14, 2012, the Moscow City Court found Pavlyuchenkov guilty of murder committed by a group and illegal keeping of weapons. The former head of Moscow police operations department was to 11 years in a maximum security prison. He had been under house arrest, was taken in custody in the courtroom.

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 involvement in planning 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 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. Gaitukayev passed to Pavlyuchenkov 150,000 dollars as remuneration for members of the criminal group.

Gaitukayev was earlier sentenced to 12 years for an assassination attempt in Ukraine. 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. Later, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict and sent the case for reinvestigation.

Rustam Makhmudov was detained in Achkhoi-Martan, Chechnya, on May 31, 2012. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov was initially placed under arrest, but later the measure of restraint was changed to house arrest.

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