MOSCOW, Sept. 3, 2009 -- In a surprise ruling, Russia's Supreme Court today overturned a ruling by a lower court and ordered a new investigation into the killing of Anna Politkovskaya, the Novaya Gazeta reporter gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building in 2006.
The Supreme Court had initially ordered a retrial for three men who were allegedly accomplices in the murder after they were acquitted by the Moscow Military District Court in February. But Politkovskaya's children argued that since the evidence against the men would be the same, the result would be the same as well, and appealed for a new investigation by the prosecutor's office.
They also asked that the case against the three men be combined with the still open case of a fourth man, Rustam Makhmudov, who allegedly pulled the trigger and remains at large. He is a brother of two of the alleged Chechen accomplices.
Their appeal for a new investigation was initially denied by the district court, but the family's lawyer told ABC News today they are very happy the Supreme Court has sided with them. Now, though, they are insisting that a more thorough investigation take place -- not only into the actions by these four men but also into who ordered Politkovskaya's murder.
A spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office told reporters today that a new trial for the four men will only start once Makhmudov, the alleged triggerman, is apprehended. As far as the family is concerned, putting him on trial won't change much, as those actually responsible will still be unknown.
Politkovskaya was famous for her columns opposing the Chechen conflict and then-President Putin. She won a number of awards for her reporting that chronicled abuses by Russian forces in Chechnya. She played a role in the hostage negotiations of the 2002 Moscow theatre siege as well as 2004's Beslan school tragedy. She was also close friends with rights activist Natalya Estemirova, who was murdered this past July.