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Russian Officers Face New Trial Over Chechen Deaths

18 January 2005 -- The retrial of four Russian military officers accused of killing six Chechen civilians began today in Rostov-na-Donu in southern Russia.

Defense lawyers insist the officers are innocent because they were following orders.

The accused were members of an elite military-intelligence unit. They were charged in the killing of the driver and five passengers of a truck that passed their position on a roadside in Chechnya in January 2002.

A jury at the military court for the Russian North Caucasus region acquitted the officers in April. However, the Russian Supreme Court overturned that verdict four months later.

The new trial is being held in the same court in Rostov-na-Donu but with a different panel of presiding judges.