July 2, 2010 / 1:49 PM / 7 years ago

Murdered U.S. reporter's family may sue Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The family of murdered American journalist Paul Klebnikov said Friday it may sue Russia in Europe's human rights court because prosecutors have failed to bring anyone to justice for his killing in Moscow six years ago.

The 2004 slaying of Klebnikov highlighted the dangers to journalists, foreign and Russian, who delve into an underworld where crime, politics and business overlap.

But his killers -- and those who ordered the contract-style murder -- are still on the loose, despite repeated requests from the United States to solve the case.

"We said in July of 2004 after Paul's murder that this case was a litmus test for Russia, yet so far the Russian government has failed that test miserably," said Michael Klebnikov, Paul's brother, who speaks for the family.

Klebnikov, the editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, was shot four times as he left his office in central Moscow on July 9, 2004. He died of his injuries in a lift which stalled at a hospital.

"We have tried everything we can in terms of using the Russian legal system and we are now seriously discussing taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights because we are simply not confident that we will see justice in Russia," Klebnikov told Reuters by telephone from New York.

DANGEROUS FOR JOURNALISTS

The Strasbourg-based court is increasingly viewed as the last shot at justice in Russia, which has a court system that even President Dmitry Medvedev acknowledges is marred by corruption and a severe lack of independence.

Two Chechen men, Kazbek Dukuzov and Musa Vakhayev, were found not guilty of his murder in May 2006. State prosecutors said there were flagrant breaches of procedure at the trial.

A retrial in 2007 was suspended as Dukuzov could not be tracked down, and since then the case has been flipped back and forth between a Moscow court, the Supreme Court and prosecutors.

"There has been no success and that is appalling, it is damning and it invites one to suspect that there are serious conflicts of interest directly linked to the tangled web of corrupt politicians, corrupt businessmen and criminals in Russia," said Klebnikov. "It is a mess."

A spokeswoman for Russia's Prosecutor-General could not be reached for immediate comment on the case.

Russia is ranked as the world's fourth deadliest country for reporters, with 52 journalists killed since 1992, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued the latest of several U.S. calls for Russia to solve the Klebnikov case and bring his killers to justice.

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