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Politkovskaya Family Lawyer Confirms: New Murder Suspect Was Earlier Treated as Witness

MOSCOW. Aug 23 (Interfax) - A lawyer for the family of Novaya Gazeta observer Anna Politkovskaya has confirmed that the man who has been detained on suspicion of a role in killing the journalist figured in the first trial as a witness for the prosecution.

"He was the prime witness for the prosecution in the first trial. We have suspected for a long time that he could have been responsible for committing this crime," lawyer Anna Stavitskaya told Interfax.

She said she hoped that "this detention would become a turning point in the case."

"Surely, it is for the court to find out whether the people figuring in the case are guilty or not," she said.

"This detention could possibly lead the investigators to the one who ordered the murder if they work hard in this direction," she said.

"As for us, we will do all we can so that all individuals involved in the crime be criminally prosecuted," Stavitskaya said.

Nadezhda Prusenkova, the Novaya Gazeta press secretary, had told Interfax earlier on Tuesday that one more person had been detained on suspicion of a role in killing Politkovskaya.

"This happened just several hours ago. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, a former chief of the fourth division of the Moscow city police operational search department, has been detained," Prusenkova said.

Pavlyuchenkov "figured in the first trial dealing with the journalist's murder as a secret witness for the prosecution, and therefore he was questioned in a secret procedure," she said.

"He said then that he had learned about the murder from the defendants, but now the investigation has every reason to presume that he was an accomplice," she said.

"A motion on taking Pavlyuchenkov into custody is likely to be forwarded to a court tomorrow. He is currently in a pretrial detention facility in Moscow," Prusenkova said.

Sergei Sokolov, a Novaya Gazeta deputy editor-in-chief, told Interfax that Pavlyuchenkov is suspected of having contracted to kill the journalist when he served for the police.

Investigators believe that it was Pavlyuchenkov who put together a criminal group, arranged the shadowing of Politkovskaya, and gave the killer a gun with a silencer.

"The Investigative Committee has not yet made official statements, but I have no doubts that everything happened exactly this way," Sokolov said.

Interfax could not immediately obtain confirmation of this information from investigative bodies.

Politkovskaya was shot dead at the entrance hall of her apartment building in Moscow on October 7, 2006.

The investigation into the crime has been extended until September 7, 2011.

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