A Moscow court has ruled against the relatives of murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, after they had
requested that one of the accused, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, not be tried separately from the rest of the defendants.
Pavlyuchenkov is accused of helping track Politkovskaya's movements to assist the killers.
The former police officer made a deal with investigators, confessing his guilt and revealing information about who ordered the crime in return for a closed court session and a sentence that can only be two-thirds the maximum punishment for such a crime.
The judge rejected the claims of Politkovskaya's relatives, her children Ilya and Vera, to have Pavlyuchenkov stand trial together with the rest of the accused in a public trial, with no special conditions regarding either the court procedure or maximum punishment.
After the judge's ruling on Wednesday, Stavitskaya said she did not believe Pavlyuchenkov's co-operated enough to meet the terms of the deal made with investigators.
"The side of the victims disagrees with the decision to examine Pavlyuchenkov's case separately [from the other five accused]," said Stavitskaya.
"We made a statement about this both at the stage of the preliminary investigation, during the preliminary investigation and during the trial.
"Pavlyuchenkov did not comply with the deal that he concluded with the investigators."
The authorities have attempted to portray Pavlyuchenkov's co-operation as a step towards finding the person responsible for ordering the crime, but Karen Nersesyan, Pavlyuchenkov's lawyer, was evasive about the possibility of finding the culprit.
"Without the help of agencies outside of Russia, specifically institutions of other countries, I doubt that we will find
anything out about the person who ordered this crime," said Nersesyan outside the trial.
"That's why questions should be directed to those countries who do not cooperate with Russia."
Pavlyuchenkov has reportedly claimed hearing that the self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky and Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev were behind the murder, claims that echoed earlier allegations made by officials.
Both men have denied the accusations in the past.
Anna Stavitskaya, the lawyer representing Politkovskaya's relatives, scoffed at the allegations, adding that Berezovsky and Zakayev were convenient scapegoats for the government.
Politkovskaya, a sharp critic of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya, was gunned down in the lift of her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006.
Five other people accused of being involved in the murder are expected to stand trial next spring.
Politkovskaya was killed on the birthday of Vladimir Putin, who was serving his second presidential term at the time, helping to fuel speculation about the possible involvement of authorities angered by Politkovskaya's reports of atrocities in Chechnya.
The investigators have so far failed to determine who ordered the killing.
The trial was adjourned until Friday.