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Moscow jury finds all defendants guilty of Politkovskaya murder

A jury in Moscow found all five defendants guilty of organising and carrying out the 2006 murder of Russian investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya.

MOSCOW: A jury in Moscow on Tuesday found all five defendants guilty of organising and carrying out the 2006 murder of Russian investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, the committee probing the killing said.

The jury at Moscow city court found four defendants guilty of organising the shooting of Politkovskaya at the entrance to her apartment block while a fifth was found guilty of carrying out the killing.

The Investigative Committee which conducted the inquiry into the murder said on Tuesday that the men faced possible life terms in prison.

Sentencing will begin on Wednesday at 0900 GMT, liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta where Politkovskaya had worked said on its website.

The shooting of Politkovskaya, who had been a fierce critic of the Kremlin's tactics in Chechnya, on October 7, 2006, shocked the world, but this was the first time that those directly involved in the killing have been brought to justice.

Still, almost eight years after the crime, investigators have yet to identify the person who ordered the apparent contract killing and Politkovskaya's family said they were disappointed that the trial had not come any closer to tracking down the mastermind.

Politkovskaya's family said on Tuesday that while they welcomed the verdict it did not go far enough.

"We agree with the verdict but this is only a small number of those guilty of the crime," her son Ilya told journalists afterwards, the Interfax news agency reported.

"Unfortunately in this trial and in this verdict there was not a single person who was even slightly close to the mastermind. That is the main disappointment," he said.

The spokesman for the Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin said Tuesday that it was carrying out "exhaustive measures" to find the mastermind.

Politkovskaya, who died at 48, made powerful enemies with her fearless reporting and exposure of atrocities carried out by pro-Kremlin armed groups in Chechnya.

Days after her death, Vladimir Putin, who was president also at that time, played down her importance, saying that "her ability to influence political life in Russia was extremely insignificant."

The jury verdict came after an earlier trial in the murder involving several of the same defendants ended in an acquittal in 2009.

Those convicted over the murder include three Chechen brothers: Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov who were found guilty of organising the killing, while a third brother, Rustam, was found guilty of shooting Politkovskaya. He was on the run during the earlier trial.

The men's uncle Lom-Ali Gaitukayev was also found guilty of organising the crime along with a former Moscow police officer, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov.

The lawyers representing the defendants said that they would appeal the verdict, Interfax reported.

"The conspirators carefully planned the journalist's murder, acquired a weapon and agreed their actions with each other," the Investigative Committee said after the verdict.

On the day of the murder Ibragim Makhmudov saw Politkovskaya driving home and tipped off his brother Dzhabrail, who then told Rustam, who entered the hallway of the apartment block in central Moscow.

"When the journalist entered the lift, Rustam Makhmudov fired several shots at her with a pistol. The weapon was left at the scene. After that the participants fled," the Investigative Committee said.

Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov and Khadzhikurbanov had already been tried and acquitted over the affair. The supreme court then halted a retrial and sent the case back for more investigation, which resulted in the current trial.

A former policeman Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov was found guilty in 2012 of tracking Politkovskaya so she could be assassinated and providing the murder weapon. He was sentenced to 11 years in a prison camp after agreeing to cooperate with the investigation and being tried separately.

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