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Homeless man convicted of killing reporter during break-in

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has said it hoped investigators did not ignore the possibility that newspaper reporter Yevgeny Gerasimenko was murdered in connection with his work after a court in Saratov on 30 October 2006 found a homeless man, Sergei Finogeyev, guilty of killing him while robbing his apartment. Finogeyev was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The court accepted the prosecution's claim that Finogeyev broke into Gerasimenko's apartment on 26 July in search of money and hit him over the head with a spanner after finding him inside. The victim was a reporter for the Saratov-based regional weekly "Saratovski Rasklad".

"Gerasimenko was investigating local corruption and had intended to publish the results of his investigations on 1 August," Reporters Without Borders said. "This is why we hope the investigators considered all possible motives, including the possibility that he was killed because of what he was working on."

The press freedom organisation added: "Finogeyev's conviction means this case has been classified as murder carried out in the course of a robbery. We will continue to closely monitor how the Russian authorities handle the cases of other journalists killed this year, especially Ilya Zimin and Anna Politkovskaya."

When Gerasimenko's body was found, it bore the marks of torture and there was a plastic bag over his head. Six days after the murder, the authorities identified Finogeyev, who was drunk on the day it took place, as the person responsible. Finogeyev allegedly hit Gerasimenko over the head and stole various items including his computer, which he then sold at the construction site where he worked.

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