Two Politkovskaya murderers sentenced to life imprisonment

Two Politkovskaya murderers sentenced to life imprisonment

MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Two Politkovskaya murderers sentenced to life imprisonment

Defendants in the murder trial of Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya attend a court hearing in Moscow, June 9. REUTERS Photo

A Russian court on June 9 sentenced two men found guilty of the murder of prominent journalist Anna Politkovskaya to life imprisonment, and handed lengthy prison terms to three others involved in the killing.

Rustam Makhmudov, the Chechen man convicted of firing the fatal shots as Politkovskaya, and his uncle Lom-Ali Gaitukayev accused of organising the hit were jailed for life at Moscow city court, Russian news agency Ria Novosti said. 

Makhmudov's two brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim were sentenced to 14 and 12 years respectively in a penal colony, while former Moscow police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov was handed a 20 year term.

The shooting of Politkovskaya, a reporter at liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta who had been a fierce critic of the Kremlin's tactics in Chechnya, on October 7, 2006, shocked the world, but this was the first time that those directly involved in the killing have been brought to justice.

Still, almost eight years after the crime, investigators have yet to identify the person who ordered the apparent contract killing and Politkovskaya's family have said they were disappointed that the trial had not come any closer to tracking down the mastermind.

A spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee which conducted the investigation pledged though that they pressing on with attempts to bring the mastermind of the shooting to justice.

"At the current time comprehensive measures are being taken to identify the person who ordered the murder," spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax news agency.

Rights activists also insisted that the case into the killing of the journalist would not be closed until those behind the killing held accountable.

"There is one fundamental question: who ordered it? Until that is resolved the case has to remain open," Lyudmila Alexeyeva from the Moscow Helsinki group told Interfax.