Son of Anna Politkovskaya criticises murder trial deal for policeman

The son of the late Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya has criticised the deal agreed with a former police officer accused of involvement in her killing, saying it wouldn’t help find out who ordered the murder.

Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who is accused of helping track Politkovskaya’s movements, is set to go on trial on Wednesday after reaching a deal with the authorities to assist investigators. A separate trial will be held for the suspected gunman, Rustam Makhmudov, and four others accused of involvement in the killing.

Politkovskaya, a sharp critic of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya, was shot dead in the lift of her Moscow block of flats on 7 October 2006. Investigators have failed to determine who ordered the hit.

The journalist’s son, Ilya Politkovsky, said Pavlyuchenkov’s deal would put him on a fast track, with the authorities waiving questioning of the necessary witnesses. He would also qualify for a reduced sentence.

“I would like Pavlyuchenkov to appear together with all the participants of this criminal group, so that his testimony will be examined in the court, not in a closed court procedure where he won’t give testimony but instead will simply confess his guilt, and that will be all,” Politkovsky said.

The investigators have completed an investigation of Makhmudov and the four others, but no trial date has been set.

Makhmudov’s two brothers and another former Moscow police officer stood trial, charged with helping stage the killing, but were acquitted in 2009. Russia‘s supreme court overruled the acquittal and sent the case back to the investigators.

The failure to bring the mastermind to justice has rankled journalists and human rights activists.

Politkovskaya was killed on the birthday of Vladimir Putin, who was serving his second presidential term at the time, and that helped fuel speculation about the possible involvement of authorities angered by Politkovskaya’s reports of atrocities in Chechnya.

Pavlyuchenkov has reportedly claimed hearing that the self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky and Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev were behind the murder, claims that echoed earlier allegations made by officials. Both men have denied the accusations in the past.

Anna Stavitskaya, the lawyer representing Politkovskaya’s relatives, said Berezovsky and Zakayev were convenient scapegoats for the government.

“This is a politically motivated version of who ordered the crime,” she said.

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