Ex-policeman jailed in Russia over Politkovskaya murder

Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov in court. Photo: 14 December 2012
Image caption,
Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov is a former Moscow police officer

A former Russian police officer has been jailed for 11 years for his role in the murder of prominent journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

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

He struck a plea bargain to qualify for a reduced sentence.

He was tried separately from five other men accused of the 2006 murder, which shocked human rights campaigners.

The court also ordered Lt Col Pavlyuchenkov to pay 3m rubles (£60,500; $97,500) in compensation to Politkovskaya's children.

The Politkovskaya family had demanded 10m rubles.

After the verdict, Pavlyuchenkov was immediately led away from the courtroom by guards.

Politkovskaya's family had opposed the plea bargain, under which Pavlyuchenkov was allowed to admit his guilt without testifying.

Other defendants

The other defendants include three members of the same Chechen family: Rustam Makhmudov, who is accused of firing the fatal shots, and his brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim, who are accused of acting as getaway drivers.

All three men were tried and acquitted for lack of evidence in 2009 but the verdict was overturned by Russia's supreme court, which ordered them to be retried.

The prosecutors said Pavlyuchenkov was part of the gang formed by Chechen crime boss, Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, who was himself allegedly in the pay of an unidentified mastermind.

Gaitukayev was arrested in 2007 in a separate case and is currently serving a jail sentence for the attempted murder of a businessman. He was charged over the Politkovskaya murder last year.

Another former police officer, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, has been charged with providing logistical support in the crime.

'Political taboo'

Politkovskaya was an investigative journalist who wrote highly critical reports on the Kremlin and of Russian military actions in Chechnya.

On 7 October 2006, she was found shot dead in a lift at her block of flats in Moscow.

At the time, the 48-year-old was working for a small-circulation Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, known for its fierce attacks on the country's authorities.

Her brutal murder shocked the media in Russia and abroad, and led to calls for better protection of journalists in the country.

The late journalist's family had argued in vain that the plea bargain would not help establish who had ultimately ordered the murder.

Their lawyer said they would appeal against Friday's verdict for being too lenient.

Novaya Gazeta's editor-in-chief said earlier there was a "political taboo" on identifying the person who had ordered the killing.

Dmitry Muratov said he wanted any plea-bargaining in the case to require that suspects name this person.