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Moldavia29 October 2007

Ilya Zimin murder trial resumes after three postponements

The trial of NTV journalist Ilya Zimin’s alleged murderer, Igor Velchev, resumed in the Moldovan city of Ocnita on 2 October after three postponements because of the absence of three key witnesses who found Zimin’s body in his Moscow apartment on 26 February 2006. It was originally scheduled to get under way on 15 August. The court decided to keep Velchev, a Moldovan citizen, in custody for another 90 days. Prosecutors seem close to establishing his guilt. Two prosecution witnesses who reside in Moscow and who are unable to attend the trial will be questioned in Moscow. The next hearing is scheduled for 4 December.


Ilya Zimin murder trial in Moldova postponed for third time

The trial of Igor Velchev for the murder of NTV journalist Ilya Zimin did not begin as scheduled in Ocnita, Moldova, on 15 August because the four NTV employees who discovered Zimin’s body in his Moscow apartment were not in court. The trial was postponed until 2 October. It was the third postponement for the same reason.

The Moldovan prosecutor’s office said the NTV journalists were notified by mail that they should attend the trial, but they claim they did not get any letter. The court could decide to ask them to respond to questions in writing, or statements could be taken from them in Moscow. But Velchev’s defence lawyer, Victor Chilat, said he would insist that they come to Moldova to testify in person.


Moldovan goes on trial today in Moldova for murder of TV reporter in Moscow

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The trial of Igor Velchev for the murder of NTV reporter and presenter Ilya Zimin begins today in Ocnita, Moldova. A Moldovan aged 23, Velchev is accused of fatally injuring Zimin, 33, in a fight in Zimin’s Moscow apartment in the early hours of 26 February 2006 after meeting him earlier in the evening. He is pleading not guilty, and faces 20 to 25 years in prison if convicted.

“We hope that this trial will enable Zimin’s family and colleagues to discover the exact circumstances of his death,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Following Velchev’s identification as the suspect in Zimin’s murder, NTV announced a reward for any information leading to his arrest. After being sought by the police for several months, he was finally arrested on the night of 23 June 2006 in Kagul, in southern Moldova.

The trial had been scheduled to start a month ago, but was postponed because of the absence of any representative of Zimin’s family.

Velchev is being tried in Moldova under a 1993 accord between members of the Commonwealth of Independent States for suspects to be prosecuted in their country of origin. Russia’s requests for his extradition were unsuccessful as article 13 of Moldova’s criminal code forbids the extradition of Moldovan citizens accused of crimes abroad.

Velchev’s lawyer, Victor Chilat, says Moldova’s courts are competent and his client will get a fair trial. He has so far refused to say anything about what happened in Zimin’s apartment the night he died.

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