French police are probing the mercury poisoning of Russia's leading human rights lawyer, the New York Times reports. Toxic pellets were found in the car of Karinna Moskalenko in Strasbourg. She had been due to attend the Moscow trial of men accused of involvement in the murder of her late client, activist journalist Anna Politkovskaya—but was prevented by vomiting and headaches.
Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist who exposed human rights abuses in Chechnya, was shot dead in Moscow two years ago in what Vladimir Putin critics said was part of a vicious Kremlin crackdown on dissenters. Moskalenko said the murder was never properly investigated. A preliminary hearing into the killing went ahead behind closed doors yesterday after a judge rejected a request to delay it because of Moskalenko's illness.