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Moscow Court Bars Public From Murdered Journalist Trial


A Moscow military court has barred the public from a trial of three men accused of involvement in the 2006 killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

The presiding judge told a hearing Wednesday that he took the step because jury members were too afraid to enter the court in the presence of the media. Monday the court had decided to keep the trial open to the public.

A lawyer for Politkovskaya's family, Karina Moskalenko expressed disappointment at today's ruling. Lawyers for the defendants also criticized the decision. The editor, Dmitri Muratov of Politkovskaya's newspaper, Novaya Gazeta called the ruling "shameful," saying it will prevent society from learning more about the unsolved murder case.

A gunman shot and killed Politkovskaya October 2006 in her Moscow apartment building. She was a strong critic of then Russian President Vladimir Putin and accused Russian forces of major human rights abuses in the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

The three defendants have denied involvement in Politkovskaya's murder.

The defendants include two Chechen men, Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makmudov, who are brothers of the suspected killer, Rustam Makhmudov and a former Moscow police officer, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov.

The Chechen defendants are accused of monitoring the journalist's movements before she was killed. The suspected shooter is thought to have fled the country, while the mastermind of the killing has not been identified.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says Russia is the world's third most dangerous country for reporters after Iraq and Algeria. It says 49 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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