Russian reporter’s murder trial starts despite boycott

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2013, 5:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2013, 5:57pm

A Russian jury on Wednesday began hearing the case against five men suspected over the murder of anti-Kremlin reporter Anna Politkovskaya, despite a boycott of the trial by her children and their lawyers.

Judge Pavel Melekhin of the Moscow City Court declined to postpone the trial as requested by Politkovskaya’s two children, who had warned the court that they would not be available to attend proceedings this week.

“The presence of the injured party is highly desirable if not required,” defence lawyer Murad Musayev was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

“We categorically oppose the continuation of the hearing” without them, he added.

Politkovskaya’s children have also complained that as the injured party their legal rights have been violated because they were not consulted over the composition of the jury.

The judge nevertheless chose to proceed with the case, which has dragged on for seven years after Politkovskaya was shot dead in 2006 in a killing linked to her reporting in the North Caucasus.

Four Chechens and a former Moscow police officer have been charged with carrying out the murder.

“We have waited almost seven years for the killers to stand trial but the state could not wait a few days,” Politkovskaya’s daughter Vera and her son Ilya wrote in a statement published in the pages of their late mother’s employer Novaya Gazeta.

“We refuse to take part in such a trial,” the siblings said, calling on their legal representatives to also boycott the proceedings. Their two lawyers are currently abroad.

The trial thus began with only the defence present. Some of the suspects asked for their detention conditions to be improved, Novaya Gazeta reported from the courtroom.

Critics of the investigation have said that even with the alleged organiser and assassin standing trial, the mastermind of the murder is still at large and has never been publicly named.

Politkovskaya made powerful enemies with her fearless reporting and exposure of atrocities carried out by pro-Kremlin armed groups in Chechnya.