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Russian Prosecutor Defends Politkovskaya Murder Case


Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika

Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's prosecutor-general has defended the investigation into the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya by saying his team is closing in on both the assassin and the person who ordered the killing.

More than two years after the murder of the reporter who was critical of the Kremlin, three men are on trial for helping the suspected assassin in the politically sensitive case.

But the suspected killer and the person who paid for the murder are still on the run, leading to complaints the investigation is incomplete.

"Work on the main criminal case has not been suspended, we know who committed the crime and he is now the subject of an international search," Russia's chief prosecutor, Yury Chaika, told the Vesti television station in a program aired on November 30, according to Interfax news agency.

Politkovskaya was best known for her human rights reporting from wars in the south Russian region of Chechnya.

Her murder caused outrage in the West and the investigation is considered a test of Russia's commitment to freedom of speech and its justice system which has failed to convict the main suspects in several high-profile murder cases.

Two Chechen brothers and a former policeman are accused of helping the assassin to shoot Politkovskaya in the head in her central Moscow apartment building after she returned from a shopping trip.

Another Chechen brother is suspected by police of being the gunman. No one has been charged with ordering the murder.

But Chaika said Russian investigators were also closing in on the person who ordered the murder.

"The Prosecutor-General's Office has not reduced pressure on the investigation to identify the person who paid for the murder," he said. "We're on the right track."
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