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The case file in the investigation of the death in police
The case file in the investigation of the death in police custody of a prominent journalist from Russia's North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia has been sent to court, Russian investigators said on Friday.

On August 31, Magomed Yevloyev, who ran a banned website that had called for protests against the local government, was shot in the head while in a police vehicle and died in hospital. Police claimed that an officer's gun had gone off "accidentally."

"He was shot straight in the temple," Magomed Khazbiyev, Yevloyev's official representative told RIA Novosti.

The lawyer representing Yevloyev's family, Musa Pliyev, said earlier this month that the Ingush Prosecutor General's Office had charged the head of the interior minister's security service, Ibragim Yevloyev (no relation to the deceased), with the journalist's death. Law enforcement authorities have refused to identify the accused due to fears that he could face reprisals from opposition supporters.

However, Pliyev said that while Ibragim Yevloyev was in the police vehicle when the journalist was killed, "other people ordered the assassination."

Russia's Kommersant daily reported in early October that investigators had not ruled out that "the officer responsible for Yevloyev's death" would be given a suspended sentence.

According to the official police version, Magomed Yevloyev was detained by police at the North Caucasus republic's Magas airport in late August. Officers then put him in a police car to take him to Nazran (the republic's largest city) to give testimony regarding "a criminal case." It was then that a gun went off, a bullet hitting Yevloyev in the head.

Yevloyev died soon after in hospital and his death subsequently triggered mass protests in the republic.

Widespread media speculation said that before his death the journalist had been involved in a mid-flight argument with Ingush President Murat Zyazikov, who was travelling on the same plane.

Ingushetia has seen a rise in violence in recent months. The Russia-based human rights group, the Moscow Helsinki Group, said in late September that the republic was on the verge of civil war as fighting between militants and authorities intensified. It also accused federal authorities of torture and abductions.

Russia remains 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.

Yevloyev's website was initially banned after being labeled extremist. Local authorities said that the website had called on people to take part in unsanctioned demonstrations against local authorities in January. In late September, the regional center for domain registration took steps to shut down the site. However, the website reopened almost immediately as Ingushetiya.org.


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