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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Appeal for Klebnikov Murder Trial to Be Open

A media freedom watchdog is urging authorities to open to the public the trial of two Chechen men charged in the slaying of Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov, a U.S. citizen who was shot dead on a Moscow street in July 2004.

The Moscow City Court said Tuesday that the suspects -- Kazbek Dukuzov and Musa Vakhayev -- would be tried behind closed doors because some of the materials in the case were classified as secret. It said a date for the jury trial would be set in two weeks.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists appealed for an open trial, saying that making the proceedings public would allow the media to report on the case and the public to evaluate the state's evidence.

"Many courts have successfully protected state secrets by closing portions of testimony and sealing evidence," the watchdog's executive director, Ann Cooper, said in a statement. "Given Russia's record of impunity in the murders of journalists, public and transparent proceedings would establish far greater credibility."

Peter Klebnikov, Paul's brother, told CPJ that his family had "confidence in the validity of the case" against the two suspects. "However, like everyone else, the family is still awaiting evidence that would implicate Nukhayev as the mastermind," he said.

In June, prosecutors accused Chechen rebel financier Khozh Akhmed Nukhayev of ordering the murder in retaliation for Klebnikov's 2003 book, "Conversation with a Barbarian."

Authorities are looking for Nukhayev as well as two other suspects.

A final suspect, Fail Sadretdinov, who is in custody, has suggested that Klebnikov might have been killed because he was investigating a series of links between Russian politicians and Chechnya, Izvestia reported last week. Sadretdinov, who is accused of organizing the killing, based his claim on a report by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation that he said was among documents that he had been allowed to read in his case.