On Tuesday, at a closed session of the Moscow District Military Court, the jury was selected for the Politkovskaya murder trial. In addition to the twelve members of the jury, eight more were chosen to form a reserve. As court chairman Colonel Zubov had expected, more than fifty of the 2000 people sent an invitation for jury duty responded.
The prosecution and attorneys for the Politkovskaya family thoroughly questioned the candidates, as procedure requires. Those defending the four accused did not display particular enthusiasm for the process.
As readers will recall, the trial began on Monday, 17 December at the Moscow District Military Court. The accused are the brothers Djabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov; Sergei Khadjikurbanov, former police captain in the Central Region organised crime department; and FSB lieutenant-colonel Pavel Ryaguzov. The latter two men are charged in a separate episode included in this criminal case, accused of abuse of office and extorting money from Moscow businessman Eduard Ponikarov.
The judge at the trial is Yevgeny Zubov. The prosecution is represented by Julia Safina and Vera Pashkovskaya from the Prosecutor General's office. The plaintiffs are Anna Politkovskaya’s children Vera and Ilya, and they are represented by defence attorneys Karinna Moskalenko and Anna Stavitskaya.
Note: Trial by jury in Russia
In a presentation to the European Parliament in December 2007 the prominent Russian lawyer Yelena Liptser offered the following brief overview.
As of 1 January 2007 trial by jury was available in only 20 of the Russian Federation’s 83 constituent Regions. In 2006 trials heard by a jury had the following outcome: 607 criminal cases resulted in convictions; 1,079 persons were found guilty; 227 persons were acquitted, or 21% of the total. This may be compared to the much more prevalent trials before a panel of judges where acquittals accounted for less than 1% of verdicts.
Her source were statistics provided by the judicial department at the Russian Federation Supreme Court, www.cdep.ru