MOSCOW - An attacker shot dead a judge from the Supreme Court of Russia's Dagestan region on Tuesday, the country's Investigative Committee said.
An unidentified attacker shot the Dagestan Supreme Court judge, Magomed Magomedov, "at least five times", the powerful agency, which investigates serious crimes, said in a statement on its website.
"The judge died from his wounds," it added.
Investigators "are prioritizing the theory that the motive was the judge's professional activities," the statement said, adding that the attack was committed in the regional capital of Makhachkala.
Magomedov is listed on the court's website as one of nine judges in the presidium of Dagestan's Supreme Court. He had recently tried cases involving armed insurgents, Russian news agencies reported.
Most recently, in December, he found three insurgents guilty of taking part in an armed group that blew up a food store, wounding one person. Magomedov sentenced them to 10, nine and eight years in prison, the Interfax news agency reported.
Investigators have opened a criminal probe, terming the murder an assassination of a justice official -- an offence that carries a maximum punishment of life in jail.
The North Caucasus, the southwest Russian region where Dagestan is located, sees near-daily violence that officials blame on militants seeking to establish an Islamic state across the impoverished territory.
Dagestan is currently the most unstable region in the Northern Caucasus, with rebels staging attacks against the pro-Kremlin local authorities almost every day.
In the most bloody recent attack, a female suicide bomber posing as a Muslim pilgrim killed a leading Islamic scholar, herself and five others on August 28 last year.
A district court judge was shot dead in his car in Dagestan in July 2010.
In Russia, 14 judges have been murdered since 2009, with only nine of the cases solved, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.
© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse