MOSCOW, December 14 - RAPSI. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, a confessed accomplice in the Anna Politkovskaya murder case, was sentenced to 11 years in prison Friday by the Moscow City Court.
According to the attorney for Politkovskaya’s kids, 15 months will count as time already served. Anna Stavitskaya has already announced the intention of Politkovskaya’s son and daughter to appeal the sentence.
In addition to this, the court held that Pavlyuchenkov must pay the Politkovskaya children three million rubles, thus partially satisfying their request for 10 million.
Politkovskaya, a journalist for the opposition-minded Novaya Gazeta, was shot and killed in her apartment building on October 7, 2006. Her murder is believed to be linked to her groundbreaking coverage of human rights abuses in Chechnya. She was a passionate critic of the Kremlin as well.
In total, six people are suspected of involvement in the murder. The other five suspects are in custody and will be tried separately. Lom-Ali Gaitukayev is accused of having organized the murder, and of having hired three of his relatives to help him: the Makhmudov brothers Rustam, Ibragim and Dzhabrail, and another former police official, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov.
Rustam Makhmudov is named as the alleged triggerman. The person who actually ordered the killing remains unknown, but is believed to have received $150,000 to orchestrate the proceedings.
Pavlyuchenkov claims to have run surveillance on Anna Politkovskaya leading up to her murder. He paid subordinates of his in the police department where he used to work between $100-150/day to keep an eye on her. These men were not told why they were watching Politkovskaya.
Pavlyuchenkov is recognized to be disabled. He is epileptic, an affliction he began to suffer from while serving in the army. At the sentencing hearing he felt ill and needed medical treatment, so an ambulance was called in.
The prosecution demanded a sentence of 12 years, which is two-thirds the maximum punishment, with 1 year probation. The attorney for Politkovkaya’s children insisted on the maximum term of 18 years.
Taking his stand for the last word Pavlyuchenkov first of all apologized for “what was done due to his fault… I feel sorry for having been involved in it.”
Pavlyuchenkov agreed to a plea bargain and subsequently testified against five other suspects. The plea bargain stipulated that the case would be considered by a “special procedure,” which excludes the examination of the evidence and the questioning of witnesses. The fact that the defendant agreed to the plea bargain mitigates the circumstances, and as a result, the court cannot impose the maximum punishment.
Politkovskaya’s children objected to the court honoring the plea bargain, urging that the defendant downplayed his role in the crime and failed to fulfill all the terms of the agreement. Nevertheless the judge refused to uphold the motion, reasoning that under the law, aggrieved parties to a given case – in this case, Politkovskaya’s son and daughter – don’t have the right to “predetermine the nature of proceedings.”