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3 Sep, 2009 18:41

Politkovskaya case returns to investigation

Russia’s Supreme Court has returned the case of journalist Anna Politkovskaya for additional investigation. This overrules a recent court ruling, which ordered a retrial of the case to start in September.

The decision was taken after Politkovskaya’s family requested an additional probe, citing faults in the prosecutors’ arguments. They also wanted charges against suspected accomplices to be reviewed along those against the alleged murderer, Rustam Makhmudov. Makhmudov, according to investigators, was the killer, but was never arrested and is on the international wanted list.

The Politkovskaya case has already gone through one trial, and in February the jury acquitted all suspects. The Supreme Court, however, has overruled the decision after an appeal by the General Prosecutor’s Office.

In August, the Moscow Military Court sent the case straight to retrial in August. The decision was criticized by Politkovskaya’s family, who said there was no sense in going through a new trial with the same evidence. They filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed with the reasoning, saying a separate review of the charges may affect the objectivity of the trial.

According to General Prosecutor’s Office officer Vera Pashkovskaya, the case may now be retried only after the alleged murderer is arrested.

“As practice shows, without the executor of the crime, a court trial would be very difficult. After the case is back to the General Prosecutor’s Office, necessary action will be taken against the shooter and those who ordered the crime, and when Rustam Makhmudov is arrested, the case will be sent back to court,” RIA Novosti news agency cites her as saying.

Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down by her apartment in October 2006. Prosecutors believe they’ve identified the people who did the killing and helped commit the crime. Those who ordered the shooting were never named.