MOSCOW - Six years after the death of crusading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a former senior police officer was found guilty in Moscow City Court on Friday for his role in the slaying and was sentenced to 11 years in prison in a trial that left many questions unanswered and the journalist's family and lawyers bitterly dissatisfied.
Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, formerly a police lieutenant colonel and head of the Moscow police surveillance department, was found guilty of ordering subordinates to trail Politkovskaya, providing information to hit men from the northern Caucasus and procuring a handgun with a silencer for the attack. He also was ordered to pay her family about $100,000 in damages.
Politkovskaya, 48, a New York City-born investigative reporter with Novaya Gazeta known for her scathing attacks on President Vladimir V. Putin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and other high-level officials, was shot in the head and chest in the elevator of her apartment house in downtown Moscow on Oct. 7, 2006.
Judge Alexander Zamashnyuk said in the verdict that Pavlyuchenkov's "actions were premeditated and paid for."
"For surveillance purposes he involved his subordinates [who were] unaware of the criminal design," Zamashnyuk said. At least five police officers tracked Politkovskaya's movements prior to the killing. "He paid them $100-$150 a day, and they used the department's cars for that."
Pavlyuchenkov acknowledged being paid $150,000 for his role.
The case was heard separately from the main trial expected to take place in March after Pavlyuchenkov struck a deal with prosecutors, acknowledging his guilt and providing details of the crime's organization.
Speaking to a crowded courtroom, Pavlyuchenkov apologized to the slain journalist's family. "Please forgive me as much as possible," he said.
Pavlyuchenkov said that he was acting out of fear that Gaitukayev, whom he identified as the organizer of the attack on Politkovskaya, otherwise would order him killed.