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No jury trial for Starovoitova murder suspects
ST.PETERSBURG - A St. Petersburg court has rejected a motion for a jury trial filed by defendants in Galina Starovoitova murder and fixed the trial for Dec. 29. Other motions filed by the defense team on behalf of the defendants such as the requests to quash the case, releasing the defendants on bail or withdrawing certain evidence from the case were also rejected. On the jury-trial issue, the court said it could not honor the motion because there is no jury institution in St. Petersburg and it cannot wait till 2004, when the jury system will be introduced. Starovoitova, a vocal liberal politician in the second State Duma was gunned down in her apartment building entrance in November 1998 in what was largely seen as a political hit. Those behind the murder were never found, but the alleged assassins who are to face trial later this month were caught later during the drawn out investigations. However, the local decision could be appealed to the Supreme Court, a step defense lawyers said they would take.
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