Russia prosecutors appeal acquittal of Politkovskaya murder suspects Tarah Park at 12:16 PM ET
[JURIST] Russia's Prosecutor General's Office [official website] on Friday appealed the acquittal [JURIST report] of three Chechen men accused of involvement in the killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. The decision to appeal the ruling was reportedly made shortly after [RIA Novosti report] Moscow Military Court judge Yevgeny Zubov referred the case back to the office last week. The defendants' acquittal came a day after a jury found that the evidence presented against Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov was insufficient to convict them for the crime. Prosecutor Vera Pashkovskaya said the appeal was based on trial violations [ITAR-TASS report] of the Russian code of criminal procedure, which may have inappropriately influenced jurors.
Politskovkaya, who gained recognition for her investigative reports [JURIST report] on torture in Chechnya, was murdered in her Moscow apartment building in 2006. The killing has been described by police as a contract killing in which the three men are accused [JURIST report] of playing minor roles. A lawyer for one of the accused alleged just before the acquittal 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 last week's jury finding, Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged Russian authorities to continue the investigation [press release] of Politkovskaya's killing.
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