A Moscow jury has acquitted three men charged with the killing of journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya.
The campaigning journalist for Novaya Gazeta was shot dead outside her Moscow flat in 2006 in a contract-style killing.
She had a history of exposing atrocities perpetrated in Chechnya and of being highly critical of the Russian authorities.
Defendants Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov and a former police officer, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, were accused of helping organise and arrange Politkovskaya’s killing.
They were charged with murder and could have been imprisoned for life if convicted.
The verdict by the 12-member jury marks the end of what the Moscow Times described as an “often chaotic” three-month trial – which was marked by the fact that neither the gunman, nor the person who ordered the killing, were in the dock.
Prosecutors have said they will appeal the ruling.
Khadzhikurbanov was accused of organising the crime, while Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov were charged as accomplices.
A third Makhmudov brother, Rustam, is claimed by prosectors to be the assassin and has escaped abroad.
The court heard that the two other Makhmudov brothers staked Politkovskaya’s flat before Rustam carried out the killing.