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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Klebnikov Acquittals Overturned

The Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the acquittal of three suspects in the killing of American journalist Paul Klebnikov and ordered a new trial, a court spokesman said.

The court, hearing an appeal by prosecutors and the victim's lawyers, said a new trial should be held with a new judge, court spokesman Pavel Odintsov said.

Klebnikov, 41, who was editor of Forbes magazine's Russian edition, was gunned down on a Moscow street in July 2004. Two men were placed on trial on charges of conducting the killing on behalf of a Chechen separatist who was the subject of a critical book written by Klebnikov, but they and another man on trial on related charges were acquitted by a jury.

Klebnikov's brother, Michael, said the family was happy with the court's decision.

"We are satisfied, we are pleased with the decision of the Supreme Court," Michael Klebnikov said by telephone from New York. "That shows that the Russian legal system can correct its own mistakes."

Prosecutors claimed the defendants, Kazbek Dukuzov, 32, and Musa Vakhayev, 42, had killed Klebnikov on behalf of a Chechen separatist, leader Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, who was the subject of a critical book by the victim and remains at large.

After a jury acquitted the defendants in May, both prosecutors and lawyers for the Klebnikov family appealed the verdict.

"We were deeply shocked by the numerous apparent violations that occurred during the course of the trial, so we are certainly very pleased with this result," Michael Klebnikov said Thursday. "The Supreme Court evidently found our appeals to be based on solid ground and we are pleased with that."

Critics of Russia's justice system, which is widely seen as lacking independence from the Kremlin, have said prosecutors failed to pursue other lines of investigation in the Klebnikov case. Observers have suggested Klebnikov may have made powerful enemies because he investigated corruption and sought to shed light on Russian business.