02/20/2009, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Washington calls on Moscow to find culprits in Politkovskaya murder case

After the acquittal of the four accused, the murder of the Novaya Gazeta journalist has no culprits. Prosecutor’s Office plans to appeal verdict. Victim’s attorney says that now there is a clear need for an effective investigation.
Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – On Thursday the United States called on Russia to continue its investigation into the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya less than 24 hours after a Moscow jury acquitted all of those accused in her trial.

“We urge the Russians to try and find those who are responsible and bring them to justice as quickly as possible,” US State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said. “We regret that her murder is remaining unsolved,” he added.

The Moscow court found brothers Dzhabrail and Ibrahim Makhmudov, Pavel Ryaguzov and Sergei Khadzhikurbanov not guilty.

The last accused, a former top officer in the Moscow police department, had been charged with masterminding the crime carried out by the Makhmudov brothers.

Dzhabrail and Ibrahim had been accused of following the intended victim whilst another brother, Rustan, who is wanted abroad, carried out the execution-style murder.

The prosecution also alleged that Pavel Ryaguzov, a former colonel in the secret service, had cooperated with the group providing the hit squad information about Ms Politkovskaya. In his case the charges were abuse of office and extortion.

After the four were acquitted Miklos Haraszti, media freedom representative for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said that this “failure amounts to a human rights crisis.”

The Prosecutor’s Office announced that it would appeal the decision.

An attorney for Ms Politkovskaya’s family said that the sentence could held in finding out who the real culprits are in the assassination of the Novaya Gazeta journalist.

None of the suspects were in fact charged with ordering the murder.

“Any ‘guilty’ verdict could allow investigators to hide behind it and say the job is done,” Karina Moskalenko, a lawyer for Politkovskaya's family, said. “Now there is a clear need to make the investigation effective, engage an investigation team” so that it is not “manipulated by anyone.”

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