MOSCOW, January 31, 3:34 /ITAR-TASS/. Prosecutors will finish presenting evidence in the case of Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya’s murder within a month.
The Moscow City Court is examining the case in a jury trial. At a preliminary session, five defendants pleaded not-guilty. Earlier, the Moscow Military District’s tribunal had acquitted the defendants but the case was then referred to the Moscow City Court after new evidence had been collected.
On Thursday, January 30, the court started hearings on the case. The prosecutors made accusatory statements, but the defendants and their lawyers rejected all charges.
The prosecutors presented Politkovskaya’s clothes with bullet holes. According to experts’ findings, the act of killing took 26 seconds -- the time that had passed between the moment the journalist entered the entryway in her house and the moment the killer walked out of it.
Investigators believe that the killer was waiting for Politkovskaya in the entryway and was watching her from the first-floor window. His movements were recorded by a camera. Former policeman Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who also appeared in this case, recognised him as defendant Rustam Makhmudov.
Pavlyuchenko has already been sentenced for complicity in the murder. The court said that being a policeman he had put Politkovskaya under surveillance.
Having presented the evidence, the prosecutors said they would question witnesses for the prosecution next week.
The court has adjourned until February 3.
The defendants in this case are Lom-Ali Gaitukayev and his nephews - brothers Rustam, Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov - and Sergei Khadzhikurbanov. All of them have been charged with murder and illegal trafficking in arms. Rustam Makhmudov has also been charged with abduction of a person in Moscow in 1996 and extortion.
Two of the five defendants - Rustam and Dzhabrail Makhmudov - are at large, the others are under arrest.
Investigators have reconstructed events that preceded Politkovskaya’s assassination. They claim that “the defendants watched Politkovskaya for several days, one of them entered and exited the entranceway [in her house] and at one point, when the journalist was walking her dog, they met face to face. The man was holding the door for her to enter the building but then left. There is no doubt that it was this person who got out of the VAZ-2104 car on the day and at the time of the assassination and then entered the entranceway of Politkovskaya’s house. The investigators came to this conclusion watching video recordings from the CCTV cameras.”
“As for the automobile the perpetrator got into, in fact there were several such cars in the area and all of them were recorded by video cameras. However the results of two examinations, which were based on the specific features of the vehicle, clearly indicate that it was the Makhmudov brothers’ car that had repeatedly appeared near Politkovskaya’s house and that was used by the defendants for escape on the day of the murder,” Investigation Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said earlier.
“Regarding the murder tool, which they left behind at the scene of the crime, it was also thoroughly studied during several examinations. Fibers found on the pistol are identical to those on the seat covers in the Makhmudov brothers’ car, which, along with other evidence, indicates that the murder tool had been in contact with the seat cover of this particular car. In addition, the investigation gathered other evidence proving the defendants’ role in Politkovskaya’s assassination,” he said.
Politkovskaya was killed in the elevator at her house on October 7, 2006. Earlier, the court sentenced Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov to 11 years in prison in this case.
According to the prosecution, having received a contract to kill Politkovskaya from a person so far unidentified by the investigators, Lom-Ali Gaitukayev of Chechnya created a criminal group of six people, drawing in Pavlyuchenkov who determined Politkovskaya’s whereabouts and routes in July-September 2006 and reported this to other members of the criminal group. He also acquired arms and ammunition for them, which later were used to kill the journalist.
When collecting information about Politkovskaya, Pavlyuchenkov used his subordinates with professional undercover surveillance skills, keeping them unaware of his criminal intentions.
On October 7, 2006, the killer, carrying the gun given to him by Pavlyuchenkov, entered the hallway of section 2 at Lesnaya Street 8/12 in Moscow and fired the pistol at Politkovskaya five times when she entered the elevator at about 16:00 Moscow time.