Moldovan court acquits suspect in Russian journalist’s murder

By RIA Novosti

Chisinau : A Moldovan court has acquitted Igor Velchev, charged with the murder of Russian NTV journalist Ilya Zimin in Moscow in 2006, the prosecution said on Tuesday.

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Prosecutor Valery Temirov said one of the judges had expressed a dissenting opinion in support of the accusation, but that the other two judges had outvoted him.

Investigators had claimed that Igor Velchev met Zimin in Moscow on February 25, 2006, and spent time with him at a Moscow night club until about 2:00 a.m. The two were then believed to have subsequently left the club together and gone to Zimin’s apartment, where an argument is said to have broken out before Velchev allegedly beat the reporter to death.

Moldova’s interior minister had previously said Velchev would be extradited to Russia to stand trial.

The Moscow City Prosecutor’s Office sent Moldova’s Prosecutor General’s Office an arrest warrant for Velchev last June.

Zimin was found dead by colleagues from the NTV television company in his Moscow apartment on February 27, 2006. An autopsy revealed he had died of head injuries, and police said the door to the apartment had not been forced open.

Last March, NTV said it would pay 1 million rubles (about $36,000) for information leading to the arrest of Zimin’s killer.