Russian court rules Politkovskaya trial not open to public
A Russian court ruled Wednesday to bar the media and public from the trial of three men charged with the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, reported dpa.
The judge at the Moscow's Military Court reversed his decision to make the trial open to the public after the jury refused to hear the case in front of the press.
"This is in consideration of the security of the participants in the trial and that of their families," judge Yevgeny Zubov was quoted by news agency Interfax as saying on Wednesday.
Politkovskaya, an award-winning reporter for the Novaya Gazeta, was a fierce critic of the Kremlin's actions during two wars in Chechnya in the early 1990s.
Both the defence and lawyers for Politkovskaya's family protested the judge's decision.
"The jury should not be afraid of their fellow countrymen, their press," Karinna Moskalenko, a lawyer for Politkovskaya's family, said.
The slain journalist's family and colleagues have sharply criticized the investigation, complaining the defendants on trial are only loosely connected to the contract killing.
The defendants' lawyer, Murad Musayev, has also accused the investigation of secrecy and foot-dragging in publishing its findings more than two years after Politkovskaya's murder.
Police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and two Chechen brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov, stand accused of plotting the murder of Politkovskaya, gunned down in front of her central Moscow flat in 2006.
But investigators are still hunting for a third Chechen man, Rustam Makhmudov, suspected of being the point man in the contract killing.
The trial was being held before a military tribunal despite protests from Politkovskaya's legal team because of the involvement Pavel Ryaguzov, an agent with Russia's FSB security service.
Dmitry Muratov, editor-and-chief at Politkovskaya's former newspaper Novaya Gazeta, on Wednesday called the decision to close the courtroom "disreputable."
"Everything is as expected, by hook or by crook," he told Interfax. "Now they have found an excuse to throw a cover over the real agents involved."