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The Moscow City Court has opened preliminary hearings Tuesday on the murder of Forbes Russia Editor Paul Klebnikov
The Moscow City Court has opened preliminary hearings Tuesday on the murder of Forbes Russia Editor Paul Klebnikov. Lema Umarov, a lawyer for one of the defendants, said the defendants asked that the case be reviewed with a jury panel. Earlier, court spokesperson Anna Usacheva said the trial could be closed to the public. "During the preliminary hearings, the court will decide whether the case will be closed to the public or reviewed with a jury panel, because case documents contain confidential information," she said. Klebnikov, a U.S. citizen, was killed near the magazine's office in northern Moscow on July 9, 2004. The Prosecutor General's Office said investigators established that Klebnikov was murdered by members of a Moscow-based Chechen criminal group that includes Kazbek Dukuzov, Magomed Dukuzov, Musa Vakhayev and Magomed Edilsultanov. "This criminal group was formed in 2002 in Moscow to conduct extortions and contract murders," the prosecution said in a statement. Investigators said the journalist had been killed because he planned to write about the embezzlement of funds allocated to the reconstruction of war-ravaged Chechnya. They said they had identified the person who allegedly ordered the killing, "Chechen resident Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, who offered the criminals a monetary reward for Klebnikov's murder". Washington welcomed the trial opening in Moscow, expressing hope that the defendants would be tried in accordance with international standards and be punished accordingly if found guilty. The U.S. State Department said the U.S. would provide Russia with any necessary assistance in the search for and arrest of the suspects in the case still at large.
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