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Forbes Russia editor murder retrial put off over suspects' absence

MOSCOW, February 15 (RIA Novosti) - New hearings on the July 2004 murder of Forbes Russia Editor Paul Klebnikov have been put off until mid-March after two key suspects failed to appear in court Thursday.

Musa Vakhayev and Kazbek Dukuzov are to be retried in the Klebnikov case in keeping with a November 2006 Supreme Court ruling that overturned their acquittal in the initial trial. Both men were released from detention in May after a Moscow court declared them not guilty of murdering the Forbes editor.

"The [Moscow City] Court notified them [Vakhayev and Dukuzov] of the date of the [new] hearings, and they acknowledged the summons," spokeswoman Anna Usacheva said.

A third suspect, Fail Sadretdinov, was also cleared of murder charges last May, but sentenced in January to nine years in prison on charges of property fraud in a separate case relating to his work as a public notary. He was brought to the courtroom for Thursday's hearing by a police convoy.

The defendants are to be tried by a 12-member jury, which the Moscow City Court has selected from among 50 candidates.

A U.S. journalist of Russian descent, Klebnikov worked for Forbes since 1989 and became the first editor of Forbes Russia when it was launched in April 2004. He earned himself an international reputation for investigating murky business dealings and corruption in the post-Soviet era.

He was shot dead on a Moscow street July 9, 2004.

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