Journalists ordered to leave court session on Politkovskaya murder

A Moscow court judge ordered journalists on Monday to leave the courtroom where a hearing into the extension of custody for a suspect in the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya is underway.

The judge upheld an investigator’s request to hold Monday’s session behind closed doors. The Basmanny Court is currently considering extending the arrest of suspected killer Rustam Makhmudov. Reporters will only be allowed into the courtroom to hear the judge’s ruling.

The prosecutor supported the request to close the session for journalists, citing a need to keep results of a preliminary investigation confidential.

The suspect, who was masked to avoid cameras while journalists were present, said he wanted them to stay.

“I don’t consider myself guilty because the charges against me are hearsay,” he said. “I don’t have anything to hide.”

Politkovskaya, well-known for her investigative journalism on human rights violations in Chechnya, was shot dead in her apartment block in Moscow on October 7, 2006. Investigators believe she was killed because of her journalistic activities.

Makhmudov was detained in Chechnya in May, 2011. In late August, police also detained former police colonel Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov on charges of organizing the murder.

Another former police officer, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, has also been accused of helping to set up the murder. Khadzhikurbanov, along with Makhmudov’s two brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim, who have been accused of driving him to and from the murder scene, were tried and acquitted for lack of evidence in 2009. The verdict was later overturned by Russia’s Supreme Court, which ordered a retrial.

The investigation into the murder has been extended until December 7.

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