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Politkovskaya verdict not much of a setback

The three men accused of playing a role in the 2006 murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya were acquitted today. While it would be great to see Politkovskaya's killers brought to justice, that clearly wasn't going to happen at this trial anyway. None of the three Chechen men on trial were accused of actually killing the journalist, who was known for her fearless and critical coverage of Russia's war in Chechenya. The L.A. Times' Megan Stack wrote shortly before the verdict:

There is a pervasive sense that the trial is tangential, that the evidence is patchy and that the Russian government has only skimmed the edges of the crime rather than dug at its roots.

Conspicuously missing from the cramped courtroom is anyone accused of pulling the trigger or ordering or paying for the slaying. Lawyers say evidence has linked the crime to the FSB, domestic successor of the KGB, but has failed to reveal how far up the ranks of intelligence services the plan to kill Politkovskaya reached.

Whether these men played a role or not, a conviction in this "chaotic, confused and even farcical" trial would probably have actually set back the campaign to find and prosecute the actual killers. Politkovskaya's newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, is currently conducting its own investigation. That one may aim a little higher.

BORYANA KATSAROVA/AFP/Getty Images

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