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Ingushetia activist 'accidentally' shot by police - investigators

MOSCOW, October 6 (RIA Novosti) - The opposition figure shot dead in police custody in the Russian republic of Ingushetia was killed by the accidental discharge of a police officer's gun, a paper said on Monday, quoting investigators.

Magomed Yevloyev, the founder of a banned opposition website, was detained by police at the North Caucasus republic's Magas airport in late August. Officers then put him in a police car to take him to Nazran (the republic's largest city) to give testimony regarding "a criminal case."

"Preliminary reports say that as the vehicle that Yevloyev and the police officers were in was moving, one of the police officers' guns accidentally went off, and a bullet hit Yevloyev in the head," a source told RIA Novosti shortly after Yevloyev's death.

The Kommersant daily also reported on Monday that investigators had not ruled out that the officer responsible for Yevloyev's death would be given a suspended sentence. The officer has not been named due to fears by law enforcement authorities that he could face reprisals from opposition supporters.

"The investigation has been completed. Court proceedings are due to start soon, and those guilty of the death of Yevloyev will be punished appropriately," an official in the main investigation committee also told the paper.

The lawyer representing the family of the deceased, Musa Pliyev, told Kommersant that he would not appeal against the decision of the court.

"This would be useless. The court will make whatever decision has been ordered by the authorities, and that's why I have no intention of seeking justice in Russia," he said.

In early September, more than 800 police officers fired warning shots and used batons to disperse a crowd protesting the death of Yevloyev. Demonstrators also called for the resignation of Ingushetia's president, Murat Zyazikov.

Yevloyev's website was initially banned after being labeled extremist. Local authorities said that the website had called on people to take part in unsanctioned demonstrations in January. Yevolyev also challenged local poll results in this year's presidential elections, in which 98% of the electorate of Ingushetia was reported as voting for Dmitry Medvedev.

In late September, the regional center for domain registration took steps to remove the opposition site. However, the website reopened almost immediately as Ingushetiya.org.

"The editorial staff of the Ingushetiya.ru website has decided to switch to a new domain name, Ingushetiya.org... [the new site] will fully reflect the content of the previous website," a lawyer for the site said.

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