Suspected killer of journalist Politkovskaya detained in Chechnya

RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev
The suspected killer of famous journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been detained in Chechnya and has now arrived in Moscow, Russian media reported.

­According to the Echo of Moscow radio station, the man, Rustam Makhmudov, was detained on Tuesday morning in his parents’ house. The news was reported by Murad Musayev, the lawyer who represents the defense of Djabrail Makhmudov, the brother of the detained suspect.

The news was soon officially confirmed by the press service of the Investigative Committee. The ITAR-TASS news agency quoted the committee’s spokesman as saying that Rustam Makhmudov was detained in a special operation in the Achkhoi-Martan district of Chechnya.

The head of the Interior Ministry of the Chechen Republic also confirmed the news and said that the operation to detain Djabrailov was held jointly by police, Security Service personnel and members of the Interior Troops.

At the same time, lawyer Musayev said that the detained suspect had been planning to turn himself in to the police. “I was in Europe a week ago. His relatives called me and asked me to visit them. It turned out they wanted to discuss his visit to investigators – he was bored by being on the run,” Musayev said in an interview with Gazeta.ru online newspaper. He also said that police most likely performed the arrest so that they could report it as their own success.

The lawyer also said that Makhmudov’s detention would help to prove the weak position of the prosecution in the process and added that in this case he welcomed it.

Earlier this year, Russian media quoted an unnamed source in the Federal Security Service as saying that the suspected killer of Anna Politkovskaya was living in Belgium. The Investigative Committee said on Tuesday that this was true, but the suspect had to leave that country after Belgian police started a hunt for him at the request of their Russian colleagues.

Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who worked for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper specializing on Human Rights issues, was shot dead at the entrance to her home in Moscow in October 2006. Investigators have said that Politkovskaya’s killing was ordered by people from Chechnya over her reports. Brothers Ibragim and Djabrail Makhmudov, as well as a former policeman Sergey Hajikurbanov, were charged within the case, but in February 2009, a Moscow Military Court and a jury acquitted the suspects.

After that the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation canceled the acquittal and returned the case to the prosecutors. In late January 2010, the head of the investigation directorate of the Interior Ministry said that his agents had found proof that the people who were earlier acquitted of killing Politkovskaya were actually guilty. He also said that they had found the man who ordered the hit. However, in March 2011 the head of the Investigative Committee with the Prosecutor General’s Office said that prosecutors had no direct proof that they could present in court. At the same time, the official said that they had plenty of indirect proof and were obtaining more of it.