A Moscow jury ruled unanimously on Thursday to acquit three men in the 2006 murder of the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, frustrating state prosecutors' hopes of putting to rest a case that cast a shadow over Vladimir Putin's Russia.
Politkovskaya was a strident critic of the Kremlin, and her killing in 2006 underlined the shrinking freedom allowed dissenters in Russian society. Investigators and colleagues concluded that someone had ordered her death to silence her, and some suspected the hand of state officials in the crime.
But the three men who were tried on murder charges in a cramped courtroom this winter were peripheral figures: two shaggy-haired young Chechen brothers accused of acting as a lookout and a driver for the suspected triggerman, who has never been arrested, and a former police investigator accused of organizing logistics for the killing.
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