MOSCOW, February 19 (RIA Novosti) - The jury has acquitted all defendants suspected of involvement in the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the courtroom on Thursday.
The jury unanimously concluded that prosecutors had failed to prove the defendants' guilt and all three were released in the courtroom.
Public prosecutor Yulia Safina said the prosecution would appeal the jury's decision.
Novaya Gazeta reporter Politkovskaya, who gained international recognition for her reports of military atrocities against civilians in the troubled Caucasus republic of Chechnya, was gunned down in an elevator in her Moscow apartment building in October 2006, in what police described as a contract killing.
Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov, brothers from Chechnya, and former police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov were charged with involvement in the murder, but the man suspected of pulling the trigger, Rustam Makhmudov - the eldest of the three Makhmudov brothers - remains at large. A separate case has been opened against him.
Lawyers for Politkovskaya's relatives said they would seek another investigation.
"We want the real killer [in the dock], and we will succeed," lawyer Karina Moskalenko said.
She declined to give an opinion on the verdict, saying it was "neither good nor bad."
Alexei Venediktov, the editor-in-chief at Ekho Moskvy radio, described the acquittal as "unbiased and effective," but expressed his concern that the guilty were yet to be traced.
"That means we will have to restart work," he said.
Nikolai Zyatkov, the head of the Argumenty i Fakty, a popular Russian weekly, said the verdict could provoke the international community to talk about the lack of freedom of speech in Russia.
"Politically, the decision will not benefit Russia at all, because Politkovskaya was a symbol of free journalism and many of our opponents in the West have attempted to use her name as proof that there is no freedom of speech in Russia," Zyatkov said.
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