Conviction at last for Gongadze murder

A FORMER Ukrainian Interior Ministry surveillance chief was convicted by a Kiev court in January for the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze, founder of the internet journal Ukrainska Pravda.

Gongadze was kidnapped in 2000 and his body was later found beheaded. He had been investigating corruption at senior levels in former President Leonid Kuchma's Ukraine government.

[Georgy Gongadze]

General Oleksiy Pukach - who headed the Interior Ministry's surveillance department - was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of strangling and then beheading Gongadze, a crime he confessed to in 2009. Pukach then told the court the murder had been ordered by former President Leonid Kuchma, his chief of staff and a former interior minister.

Prosecutors brought charges against in 2011, after secret tape recordings emerged of Kuchma ordering Interior Ministry people to kill Gongadze. These charges were later dropped for "lack of evidence".

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed the conviction, which comes at the end of a trial held behind closed doors, and "after more than a decade of tireless pursuit of justice for Gongadze," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. He described the decision as "partial justice, as others involved in his murder are still being shielded."

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Last modified: 06 Feb 2013 - © 2013 contributors
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