MOSCOW– Three suspects in the murder of journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya went on trial for a second time in Moscow Wednesday as supporters questioned the authorities' will and ability to solve the case.
No one has been sentenced for the 2006 killing of Politkovskaya, who published scathing exposes of official corruption and rights abuses. Her supporters say the new trial is a waste of time and a new investigation is needed.
The three alleged accomplices, the only people so far charged in connection with the murder, were acquitted in February after evidence from what Politkovskaya's family said was a botched investigation failed to convince a jury.
A higher court ordered a new judge and jury to hear the same evidence again, but supporters say this is a waste of time and have called for a new probe to find those who ordered the crime. The man accused of pulling the trigger is on the run.
The trial is not helping to solve the crime, Karina Moskalenko, a lawyer for Politkovskaya's family, said ahead of the hearing. We want them to start a proper investigation.
The killers are walking free and the savages who thought up this disgusting crime against a defenceless woman have not been brought to justice, she said.
The killing of Politkovskaya, a 48-year-old mother of two, sparked outrage in the West, but Russia's then-president Vladimir Putin said she had minimal influence on Russian society.
President Dmitry Medvedev has been more outspoken in his support for freedom of speech since he came to power last May and has visited the offices of Politkovskaya's newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, and vowed to reform the legal system.
But critics say they are still waiting for signs that his pledges will improve the country's poor record on solving attacks against opposition figures.
There is no evidence yet that it has led to a better quality of investigation, said Maria Lipman, a political analyst with the U.S.-funded Carnegie Center in Moscow.
The Kremlin has denied accusations of involvement in Politkovskaya's murder and said it was an attempt to discredit Russia. It has vowed to solve the crime.
Lawyers representing the family Wednesday asked the judge to send the case back to the prosecutors for further investigation. Politkovskaya's son Ilya said he doubted the request would be granted.
If the court refuses, it means they don't want to find the truth, he said.
(Writing by Conor Humphries; editing by Andrew Roche)