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RUSSIA AND HAITI INTENSIFY FIGHT AGAINST IMPUNITY BY CONVICTING JOURNALISTS' KILLERS

Five gang members have been convicted in Russia for the murder of journalist Igor Domnikov, the first time suspects have been prosecuted in a journalist's killing since Vladimir Putin became president in 2000, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). In Haiti, two life sentences were handed down to the murderers of journalist Jacques Roche, according to Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF).

On 29 August, a court in Kazan, Russia sentenced two men to life in prison, including the head of the organised crime group Tagiryanovtsy, and three others to prison terms ranging from 18 to 25 years for Domnikov's murder, CPJ reports.

CPJ welcomed the "groundbreaking step in the fight against impunity in the killing of journalists," but urged the authorities to go further and find and prosecute the masterminds behind Domnikov's killing.

Domnikov, who wrote extensively on official corruption for the investigative newspaper "Novaya Gazeta", was bludgeoned repeatedly on the head outside his Moscow apartment building. He died in July 2000 after two months in a coma.

The verdicts in the Domnikov case come the same week that 10 suspects were arrested in the 2006 murder of another "Novaya Gazeta" journalist - renowned investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya. According to CPJ, three of 14 journalists killed in the past seven years because of their work were reporters for "Novaya Gazeta".

Meanwhile, in Haiti, two life sentences were handed down to the killers of Jacques Roche, the head of "Le Matin" newspaper's arts and culture pages. Roche was kidnapped on 10 July 2005 and found dead four days later.

Alby Joseph, a Port-au-Prince slum gang member, was found guilty of killing Roche, while Chéry Beaubrun was given life imprisonment for receiving money to guard Roche while he was held hostage. Their convictions come less than a month after local press freedom group S.O.S. Journalistes and President René Préval created an independent commission to investigate the unsolved murders of journalists. Several other suspects have been arrested but have not yet been tried.

Visit these links:
Russia:
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/ynnyn7
Haiti:
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=23500
- "IFEX Communiqué" on commission: http://tinyurl.com/3al4hn
(4 September 2007)

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