(New York) – Amnesty International said today that although the conviction of the killer of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya is a welcome development, prosecutors must not rest until those who masterminded the assassination are brought to justice.
Former police officer Dmitry Pavliutchenkov was found guilty and sentenced today to 11 years in a high security penal colony. The trial of five other accomplices who worked with Pavliutchenkov to observe and assassinate Politkovskaya is expected to begin in March next year
"While we welcome today’s verdict and the long-awaited prosecutions of Anna Politskovskaya’s killers, this case can never truly be closed until those who ordered her murder are named and brought to justice," said John Dalhuisen, director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.
A human rights defender known for her critical reports from Chechnya, Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in the elevator of her building on October 7, 2006.
"We are urging prosecutors to keep digging up the truth, no matter how politically inconvenient," said Dalhuisen.
Despite a special plea bargain to give evidence against those who ultimately ordered the killing, Pavliutchenkov only named two opposition exile figures in what Politkovskaya's family has called a 'politically motivated' testimony.
The family's lawyers plan to appeal, calling for Pavliutchenkov to be given a longer sentence.
Since Politkovskaya’s death, journalists and human rights defenders have continued to face attacks and threats, and have been killed with impunity.
Recent restrictive initiatives have included the re-criminalization of libel, and the introduction of a bill by a government MP that would limit coverage of 'negative information' in the media. This could amount to censorship and undue restriction on the right to access to information.
Amnesty International is calling for better protection of journalists and human rights defenders in Russia, and an end to restrictions on freedom of expression.
"The Russian government's toxic habit of silencing those with dissenting or critical views has to stop," said Dalhuisen.
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Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.