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Russia journalist murder suspects acquitted

[JURIST] The Moscow Military District Court on Friday acquitted three men suspected of being involved in the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. The three men, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov, were released [RIA Novosti report] after a jury on Thursday found the evidence against them insufficient for a conviction [RIA Novosti report]. Colonel Pavel Ryaguzov has also been acquitted for charges related to the case. The judge in the case, Yevgeniy Zubov, has ordered a new investigation [BBC report] into Politkovskaya's murder, and prosecutors have 10 days to appeal the verdict. 

A lawyer for one of the accused alleged Tuesday that prosecutors had fabricated evidence [JURIST report] and pointed to other irregularities in the evidence including a lost DVD with security camera footage and claims of other prosecutorial misconduct. Since the trial began in October, judge Yevgeniy Zubov has closed and then opened the proceedings to the public three times [JURIST news archive], citing juror security concerns and the presentation of classified information. After Thursday's jury finding, Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged Russian authorities to continue the investigation [press release].

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