Ukraine: Former President Kuchma Accused of Involvment in Journalist Murder
ROME – For the murder that took place 12 years ago of Georgi Gongadze, a Ukrainian journalist often critical of the political power in his country, former President Leonid Kuchma, at the time in office, may be newly accused. The Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Rinat Kuzmin told Radio Eco Movski that there is “enough evidence to prove the involvement of Kuchma” in the assassination.
Kuchma was head of government for almost a year, until 1993, and a much-discussed President from 1994 to 2005. The body of Gongadze was found decapitated in a forest 70 kilometers from the capital Kiev. The murder sparked outrage abroad and Kuchma in March 2011 was charged of instigation of murder, upon a notice from an officer of the presidential guard, Mikola Melnicenko, who claimed to have collected wiretap. But the trial has been dismissed because the records of the private meetings were deemed “illegal” and the judgment was then upheld in both the Appeal’s Tribunal and the Supreme Court.
The story returned to the foreground in January, when a court in Kiev sentenced to life imprisonment the former general of police Oleksii Pukach, who confessed to strangling Gongadze. Just before three other police directors were sentenced to between 12 to 13 years.
Gongadze, who was born in Georgia, died at 31. He had signed a number of surveys on the corruption surrounding the presidential entourage and five months before he was abducted, tortured and killed, he had founded the online journal The Ukrainian Truth.
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