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Russia

Russian journalist Politkovskaya's children boycott murder trial

The children of the late anti-Kremlin journalist Anna Politkovskaya have boycotted the start of the second trial into her 2006 murder. They allege the jury's selection violated their legal rights.

The first hearing in the trial began on Wednesday, after the Moscow City Court declined a request by Vera Politkovskaya and Ilya Politkovsky to postpone it. The pair, who are joint plaintiffs in the case, had warned the court neither they nor their lawyer would be able to attend proceedings this week, and have also complained that the judge appointed the jury without consulting them.

Their mother, Anna Politkovskaya, was shot dead in her apartment building on October 7, 2006. She had been working for Novaza Gazeta newspaper, which is openly critical of the governent.

Politkovskaya's children released a statement to their late mother's newspaper, following the rejection of their request.

"We have waited almost seven years for the killers to stand trial but the state could not wait a few days. We refuse to take part in such a trial," the statement read, with the siblings calling on their legal team to also boycott the proceedings.

The editor of Novaza Gazeta, Sergei Muratov, said he supports the children's decision.

Mystery surrounds motive and mastermind

On trial are five men accused of organizing and carrying out the killing, in a case that has dragged on for the past seven years. They have pleaded not guilty.

The murder of Politkovskaya, an award-winning reporter and author, has been linked to her reporting in North Caucasus. She had broken stories on contract killings, rapes and abductions carried out by pro-Kremlin armed groups in Chechnya, from where most of the defendants originate.

However a motive has never been firmly established, nor has a mastermind of the crime been identified.

Following a trial in 2009, three of the defendants were acquitted, but the Supreme Court overturned the decision later that year and ordered a retrial. This came after complaints from prosecutors about a number of procedural violations in the trial.

One former police officer and defendant in the first trial, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, was convicted and sentenced to 11 years last December after he gave information about the other suspects.

jr/dr (dpa, AFP)