3 acquitted of journo's murder

2009-02-19 15:40

Moscow - A Moscow jury has acquitted three men charged in the killing of journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya.

Thursday's not guilty verdicts are an embarrassing defeat for prosecutors in a trial compromised from the start by the absence of the suspected gunman and any alleged mastermind.

Defendants Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov and a former police officer, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, were accused of helping organise and arrange Politkovskaya's contract-style killing in 2006.

They were charged with murder and could have been imprisoned for life if convicted.

Politkovskaya's probes into atrocities in Chechnya and abuses by Russian authorities angered the Kremlin. Her killing underscored the risks run by journalists and government critics in Russia.