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The Supreme Court of Tajikistan has postponed a trial
The Supreme Court of Tajikistan has postponed a trial of two suspects in the murder of Russian TV reporter Ilyas Shurpayev until July 22, a defense lawyer said on Friday.

Shurpayev, a reporter from Russia's volatile North Caucasus republic of Daghestan, who worked for Russia's state-run Channel One, was found stabbed and strangled in his rented Moscow apartment on March 21.

The defense lawyer for one of the suspects said the trial has been postponed as the defense has not been given sufficient time to study the case materials, receiving them only on Thursday.

The accused, Masrurdzhon Yatimov and Nadzhmiddin Mukhiddinov, are both Tajik nationals and have been charged with premeditated murder under aggravating circumstances.

The Tajik Interior Ministry has rejected suggestions that Shurpayev's murder was related to his professional activities, saying it was the result of a simple burglary gone wrong.

Yatimov, 24, and Mukhiddinov, 20, said they had not planned to kill Shurpayev, but they were forced to kill him when the journalist put up resistance.

Yatimov, believed to be the main suspect in the murder, said he had met the reporter on March 12 and that Shurpayev had offered him money for sex. The suspects allegedly then learnt that Shurpayev had recently received a large sum of money from Daghestan, and decided to rob him.

After killing the journalist, the two men set fire to his apartment. However, the blaze was put out before it had time to spread, and Russian police later discovered the victim with a belt around his neck and multiple stab wounds.

Russia is one of the world's most dangerous countries for reporters. According to data from the international organization Reporters Without Borders, 21 journalists were murdered in Russia between 2000 and 2007.

The two highest-profile cases have been the 2004 murder of Paul Klebnikov, who investigated corruption, and the 2006 murder of outspoken Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya.

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