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Ex-Policeman Gets 11 Years Over Politkovskaya Murder


Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov (center) is escorted into a Moscow courtroom on December 14.
Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov (center) is escorted into a Moscow courtroom on December 14.
Russian judges have sentenced a former police officer to 11 years in prison for his involvement in the high-profile murder six years ago of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

A Moscow court found Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov guilty of tracking Politkovskaya's movements and providing the killer with a gun.

Pavlyuchenkov was also ordered to pay 3 million rubles ($97,800) to Politkovskaya's family -- less than one-third of what they had sought.

Pavlyuchenkov will serve his term in a high-security prison.

Politkovskaya, known for her hard-hitting reporting on corruption and politics under Vladimir Putin's rule, was gunned down in the stairwell of her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006.

As a correspondent for "Novaya gazeta," one of Russia's few remaining independent media outlets, she had also strongly criticized the Kremlin's policies in Chechnya.

Anna Politkovskaya
Anna Politkovskaya
Her murder caused international outrage. The failure of investigators to determine who ordered the killing has also angered rights groups.

Pavlyuchenkov on December 14 apologized to Politkovskaya's two adult children and urged the court not to punish him too harshly.

"I want to appeal to the family of Anna Stepanovna [Politkovskaya]; I simply want to ask for their human forgiveness," Pavlyuchenkov said.

He had pleaded guilty to helping organize her killing and was given a reduced sentenced in return for his cooperation with investigators.

Politkovskaya's children, however, rejected the former policeman's deal with authorities on the grounds that he failed to name the mastermind behind the murder.

Under the deal, the trial was held behind closed doors.

The suspected triggerman and four others accused in the case will be tried separately. The defendants include three members of the same Chechen family.

Prosecutors said Pavlyuchenkov was part of a gang formed by Chechen crime boss Lom-Ali Gaitukayev.

A number of journalists and rights activists critical of Russian authorities have been assassinated in the past decade. Most of the killings remain unsolved.

Following Politkovskaya's murder, Putin called for her killers to be punished but also described her work as "extremely insignificant."

With reporting by Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and AP
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