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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Verdicts Expected in Klebnikov Trial Friday

The closed-door trial of two suspects accused of killing Paul Klebnikov, the American editor of Forbes magazine's Russian edition, will probably end with the jury's verdict on Friday, a Klebnikov family spokesman said.

Moscow City Court Judge Vladimir Usov started reading his instructions to the 12-member jury late Thursday, and he will finish Friday, said Alexei Brevnov, the spokesman.

Then the jury will remain locked in a deliberations room to decide their verdict, which should be announced by the end of the day, Brevnov said.

The defendants, ethnic Chechens Kazbek Dukuzov and Musa Vakhayev, are charged with killing Klebnikov as he left his Moscow office in July 2004. Prosecutors said the suspects acted on behalf of Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, a Chechen separatist who appeared in "Conversations with a Barbarian," a critical book by Klebnikov that was published in 2003.

A third defendant, Fail Sadretdinov, is also on trial and is accused of ordering the two Chechens to kill a businessman in an unrelated case. The defendants maintained their innocence as closing statements were made Wednesday.

Nukhayev and two other suspects in the Klebnikov killing remain at large.

The Klebnikov family had expected a verdict to be reached as early as Thursday, but it took the court some time to formulate 54 questions for the jury to ponder and for the judge to read his instructions, Brevnov said.

The judge read the instructions for four hours, including several short breaks, said Sadretdinov's lawyer Ruslan Koblev, Interfax reported.

The court closed the trial after the Prosecutor General's Office classified the case as secret, apparently due to a description in case files of how the Federal Security Service collected evidence against the suspects.

The Klebnikov family, defense lawyers, the U.S. government and the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists, a leading media freedom watchdog, have called for an open trial. The trial's closure sparked concerns about fairness and the quality of prosecutors' evidence.

The trial began on Jan. 10, but came to a halt the same month when Judge Marina Komarova fell ill. The current judge began presiding over the trial on Feb. 15 with a new jury.

The prosecutor in the trial, Dmitry Shokhin, headed the state's case against billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky last year. Khodorkovsky is now serving eight years on fraud and tax evasion charges, which he and his supporters call politically motivated.