The defendants in the journalist Anna Politkovskaya murder case have pleaded not guilty in court.

The defendants and their lawyers announced this after the prosecutors read the indictment, an Interfax correspondent has reported.

"My client Jabrail Makhmudov has no relation to this crime. He has never followed Politkovskaya. I had some doubts about it seven years ago, but now I am fully sure of that," lawyer Murad Musayev said.

The court previously selected a new jury. Anna Stavitskaya, a representative for the victims, told reporters the court had selected 12 main jurors and 12 reserve jurors. She said most of the main jurors are women and most of the reserve jurors are men. The average age of the jurors is 40-50 and none of them have origins in the Northern Caucasus, she said.

On November 14, the Moscow City Court disbanded the jury after Justice Pavel Melekhin agreed with the prosecutors further trial of the case was impossible because three jurors had withdrawn from the trial because they were busy with their jobs or for health reasons.

Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist from Novaya Gazeta, was killed in the lobby of her house in Moscow on October 7, 2006. The masterminds of the crime have not been determined.

Standing trial are five people, i.e. Chechen native Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, his nephews Rustam, Ibragim, and Dzhabrail Makhmudov, and former Moscow city police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov. They have been charged with murder (Russian Criminal Code Article 105) and illegal weapons turnover (Article 222).

According to the information possessed by the investigators, the mastermind is Gaitukayev, who created the organized group comprised of the other defendants in 2006. The investigators believe the members of the group thoroughly planned the Politkovskaya murder, purchased weapons, and coordinated their actions, and "Sergei Khadzhikurbanov supervised the group's actions."

None of the defendants are admitting their guilt.

Former police officer Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov has already been convicted in this case. He made a deal with the investigators and admitted his guilt. According to information possessed by the investigators, Pavlyuchenkov followed Politkovskaya at the request of Gaitukayev, who paid him $150,000 to do that.

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