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Russia Launches New Probe Into Journalist's Death

An opposition activist holds a portrait of Magomed Yevloyev during a protest in Moscow last year.

An opposition activist holds a portrait of Magomed Yevloyev during a protest in Moscow last year.

NAZRAN, Russia (Reuters) -- Prosecutors in Russia's troubled Ingushetia region have ordered a new investigation into how an opposition journalist was shot in the head and killed while in police custody, a lawyer for his family said.

The death of Magomed Yevloyev, editor of the region's main opposition news source, sparked massive protests against the local authorities. The regional leader has since been removed and his successor has promised to tackle official wrongdoing.

An initial investigation, under Ingushestia's previous leader, Murat Zyazikov, concluded that Yevloyev had been killed by accident after he tried to grab a police officer's gun, and no one was charged.

"The prosecutor's office in Ingushetia has launched a criminal investigation into...'abuse of office during the unlawful detention of Magomed Yevloyev,'" Musa Pliyev, a lawyer for the Yevloyev family, told Reuters.

"The investigation will also now aim to establish the persons, who participated in his detention, as well as those who sanctioned his transportation to a police station," said Pliyev, who is also an aide to new local leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov.

Yevloyev, owner of the opposition website and a vocal critic of Zyazikov, died from a gunshot wound to the head on August 31 after he was detained by police on landing at the local airport and driven away.

He was the highest-profile journalist killed in Russia since investigative reporter and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead outside her Moscow apartment in 2006.

On October 31, after a wave of opposition protests and an outcry from human rights bodies over Yevloyev's death, the Kremlin replaced Zyazikov with Yevkurov, a former paratroop commander.

The new leader has tried to restore trust in the authorities -- among influential clans -- after it was badly damaged under his predecessor.