Moscow court selects new jury in Klebnikov murder trial

MOSCOW, February 15 (RIA Novosti) - The Moscow City Court selected a new jury Wednesday in the closed trial of two men accused of killing the editor of Forbes Russia, Paul Klebnikov.

The trial restarted Wednesday with a new presiding judge, who replaced his predecessor, Marina Komarova, due to ill health.

Defense attorney Ruslan Khasanov and court spokeswoman Anna Usacheva said the court had chosen 12 jurors and six alternates out of 49 candidates.

"They are mostly women aged about 40," Khasanov said.

The court had dismissed the previous jury after the new judge, Vladimir Usov, was appointed.

On Wednesday, the court turned down an application to release Moscow notary Fail Sadretdinov, who is on trial on separate charges, but is not accused of murdering Klebnikov. Earlier Sadretdinov's defense said he had attempted to commit suicide due to poor conditions in the pre-trial detention center, though penitentiary officials denied this.

The trial will begin at the next hearings when the public attorney would present the charges.

Witnesses are to be questioned on Thursday. "Out of 146 witnesses of the public attorneys, only five relate to Satretdinov's episode," the notary's defense attorney Ruslan Koblev said, adding that the defense would summon 30 witnesses.

The defense also said the judge had assumed that the case could be considered within a month.

Apart from Fail Sadretdinov, the defendants are two ethnic Chechens, Musa Vakhayev and Kazbek Dukuzov, who were arrested by Belarus police in Minsk on November 17 last year. Three other suspects are on the wanted list.

Klebnikov, 41, the editor of the Russian version of Forbes magazine and a United States national, was gunned down in Moscow on July 9, 2004. He had gained a reputation for investigating murky post-Soviet business dealings and corruption. Prosecutors have said Dukuzov and Vakhayev killed him on the orders of Chechen businessman Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, who wanted revenge for a critical book, Conversations with a Barbarian, which featured him as the central figure.

Public prosecutors have also said that the same group was involved in the killing of former Chechen deputy Prime Minister Yan Sergunin, in June 2004, in an attack on businessman Alexei Pichugin, and in banditry and extortion.


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