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Russian Court Overturns Acquittals in Journalist Trial


A Russian Supreme Court judge overturned the acquittals of three men who had been charged with taking part in the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. The reporter and human rights advocate had been a leading critic of the Russian government and its policy in Chechnya.

The Russian Supreme Court ordered a new trial for all three men who had been accused of involvement in the murder of prominent journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Politkovskya, who was shot and killed at her Moscow apartment building in 2006, had been a persistent critic of the country's most powerful leaders including current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and reported widely on human rights abuses in Chechnya.

Tanya Lokshina is deputy director of Human Rights Watch in Moscow. She says the court decision to overturn the acquittal of the three men is an opportunity for Russia and it's president, Dmitri Medvedev, to do something about the country's corrupt court system.

"I think it's a big test for Russia and a big test for Medvedev from the viewpoint of Medvedev's initial very weighty statement about the need for rule of law, which is imperative in contemporary Russia," Lokshina said.

Politkovskaya supporters claimed throughout the trial that the prosecution had made numerous errors. The prosecution then accused the judge of making numerous procedural violations. The Supreme Court agreed.

Politkovskaya's murder deepened international concerns about the risks journalists take while reporting in Russia.

Tonya Lokshina with Human Rights Watch in Moscow says that the new trial will also give Russian President Dmitry Medvedev the chance to back up his own words about improving human rights abuses in Russia.

"I think that by providing for a fair trial, in a very prominent case, Medvedev will have to demonstrate that he does stand behind his own voice," Lokshina said.

No word yet on when the new trial will begin. It is expected to be held in the same courtroom where the original trial was held.



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