Source Pravda.Ru

Jury selection begins in retrial of 3 accused in Paul Klebnikov's murder

Jury selection began Thursday in the retrial of three men linked to the 2004 murder of the American-born editor of Forbes magazine's Russian edition, a Moscow court spokeswoman said.

Prosecutors were hoping to secure murder convictions for Kazbek Dukuzov and Musa Vakhayev, who were acquitted last year by a jury for the killing of Paul Klebnikov. The Supreme Court later overturned the acquittal and ordered a new trial.

The Moscow City Court began choosing jurors for a new trial Thursday morning, spokeswoman said.

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 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.

A third man allegedly linked to the murder, Fail Sadretdinov, was convicted last month on an unrelated crime and sentenced to nine years in prison. RIA-Novosti quoted his defense lawyer as saying he was ill and would not be attending the trial proceedings.

Klebnikov, 41, an American of Russian origin who was editor of Forbes magazine's Russian edition, was gunned down outside its Moscow offices in July 2004. Many believed the killing was connected to Klebnikov's work investigating corruption and Russia's shadowy business world, but the case remains unsolved, the AP reports.

The U.S.-based media watchdog group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, called on court officials to make the proceedings open to the public, to ensure the suspects are present for the trial and to make sure the jury is sequestered - something that happens rarely in Russian judicial proceedings.

"The first trial was riddled with procedural violations that were hidden from the public with closed door proceedings and a gag order on all participants," Executive Director Joel Simon said in a statement.

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