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Russian journalist's killing: 2 sentenced to life in prison

By Alla Eshchenko, CNN
updated 2:39 PM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A jury found that Rustam Makhmudov shot Anna Politkovskaya in 2006
  • It also found that Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, Lom-Ali Gaitukayev were masterminds
  • Makhmudov, Gaitukayev get life in prison; three other men also get prison sentences
  • Politkovskaya, a Kremlin critic, chronicled human rights abuse in Chechnya

Moscow (CNN) -- A Moscow court on Monday sentenced five men to prison for the 2006 killing of Russian journalist and fierce Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya, including two to a life term.

A jury found that Rustam Makhmudov shot Politkovskaya at her Moscow apartment building in October 2006, the state-owned legal news agency RAPSI said.

He and Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, whom the jury found was a mastermind of the killing, were sentenced to life in prison, according to the court.

Authorities alleged that an unidentified man asked Gaitukayev to kill Politkovskaya in exchange for $150,000 because of her reports of human rights violations and other issues, the Moscow city court said.

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A second convicted plotter, former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Two of the gunman's brothers, Dzhabrail Makhmudov and Ibragim Makhmudov, were convicted as accomplices. Dzhabrail drove Rustam to the apartment building, and Ibragim was a lookout, telling Rustam that the journalist was approaching her home, RAPSI reported.

Dzhabrail Makhmudov received a 14-year sentence, and Ibragim Makhmudov was sentenced to 12 years in prison, the court said.

The court also ruled in favor of Politkovskaya's children in a lawsuit against the defendants. The court ruled that each defendant must pay the children 1 million rubles (about $28,800).

A sixth defendant, retired police Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, pleaded guilty in a separate trial in December 2012, accused of being one of the plotters. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison and testified against the other defendants.

A staunch critic of the Kremlin, Politkovskaya was found shot dead in her apartment building while she was working on a series of reports about the restive Russian republic of Chechnya for Novaya Gazeta, an independent Moscow-based newspaper.

A man in a baseball cap shot Politkovskaya in an elevator of her apartment block as she was returning home.

Politkovskaya chronicled human rights abuses in Chechnya, and those stories led to threats against her, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Politkovskaya covered the second Chechen war for seven years, and her work angered Russian authorities, the journalists committee said.

CNN's Jason Hanna contributed to this report.

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