Russia's Supreme Court on Monday upheld the acquittal of six men suspected of murdering an investigative journalist more than a decade ago, delivering a blow to state prosecutors and the victims' parents, who exhausted their last legal recourse in Russia.
Dmitry Kholodov, a reporter who investigated military corruption, was killed in October 1994 when a briefcase he had picked up at a Moscow train station following an anonymous call blew up in his office. Colleagues said he had been told it contained evidence.
Six men charged in the killing, including four former members of an elite paratroops unit, were acquitted in two separate trials, in 2002 and 2004. The Supreme Court's military board on Monday ruled against the prosecutors' and Kholodov family's appeal to send the case back to trial, Russian media reported.
The statute of limitations on the Kholodov case has expired, since it is more than 10 years old, according to the Criminal Code in effect at the time of the killing.
There are no more possibilities for appeal in Russia, and Kholodov's father said they now would appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, whose ruling would be binding on Moscow.
"We are sure they are guilty of the death of our son," Kholodov's father said after the verdict. "No one can convince us otherwise."
Prosecutor Irina Aleshina insisted that the evidence in the case pointed at the defendants' guilt.
Investigators said that former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, repeatedly targeted in Kholodov's articles, had ordered one of the defendants to "deal with" the reporter. In his testimony, Grachev said his words were not an order to kill Kholodov.
Pavel Popovskikh, a senior former paratroops officer accused by prosecutors of masterminding the killing, told reporters that he was "satisfied" with Monday's verdict. Associated Press