Russian court postpones retrial of men accused in murder of American journalist
MOSCOW -- A court on Monday postponed the retrial of two men accused in the 2004 murder of the American editor of Forbes magazine's Russian edition because one of the men is still missing, a court spokeswoman said.
The trial of those suspected in the killing of Paul Klebnikov has been in limbo since the Supreme Court overturned their acquittal by a jury and ordered a new trial.
The Moscow City Court was to begin a closed-door retrial Monday, but instead returned the case to prosecutors while authorities continue searching for Kazbek Dukuzov, who disappeared earlier this year, court spokeswoman Anna Usacheva said.
Another man, Musa Vakhayev, remains in Moscow, while a third man linked to the case, Fail Sadretdinov, was convicted in January on an unrelated crime and sentenced to nine years in prison.
Both Vakhayev and Sadretdinov were present for Monday's brief session, Usacheva said.
The defendants' lawyers have criticized the retrial as politically driven, and said authorities were pressuring the court to convict the defendants. President Vladimir Putin last year praised the Supreme Court's decision to order a retrial.
Journalist watchdog Reporters Without Borders said the trial was not transparent and would result, at best, in a "convenient" result for Russian authorities.
Klebnikov, 41, was gunned down outside the Moscow offices of Forbes' Russian edition in July 2004. Many believed the killing was connected to Klebnikov's work investigating corruption and Russia's shadowy business world.
Prosecutors have claimed that Dukuzov and Vakhayev killed Klebnikov on behalf of Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, who was the subject of Klebnikov's book "Conversations With a Barbarian." Nukhayev also remains at large.
Critics of Russia's justice system, which is widely seen as lacking independence from the Kremlin, have said prosecutors failed to properly pursue other lines of investigation.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)