11:04 24.07.2009

Pukach hasn't named key figures in Gongadze murder, says lawyer

Serhiy Osyka, the lawyer of Oleksiy Pukach, former Interior Ministry general lieutenant who is a suspect in journalist Georgy Gongadze murder case, has said that his client hasn't disclosed to the investigators the names of people, who had ordered the murder.

"Pukach has refuted the reports in mass media that he disclosed the names and was ready to show the place where the journalist's head was hidden," the lawyer said in an interview with the 5th channel on Thursday night.

Osyka also added that he had asked Pukach twice, whether he named those who ordered the murder. "I haven't given such information, it is not true," his client said. When asked whether he intended to provide this information to the investigation, Pukach said he was not going to do this and then added "for the time being."

The lawyer said that the first questioning after Pukach's detention was conducted in the presence of a free lawyer.

Georgy Gongadze, a critic of Ukraine's leadership, went missing in Kyiv on September 16, 2000. A headless corpse found in a forest near Kyiv in November that year was later proved to be Gongadze's body.

On November 28, 2000, Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz, who today is parliament deputy speaker, publicized audio recordings that appeared to implicate then president Leonid Kuchma in Gongadze's murder.

The Kyiv Court of Appeals on March 15, 2008, sentenced Gongadze's three killers - former officers of the Interior Ministry's surveillance department - Mykola Protasov, Valeriy Kostenko and Oleksandr Popovych - to 13, 12 and 12 years in prison respectively. The chief of the ministry's surveillance department, Oleksiy Pukach, was long on the wanted list. However, it remains unclear who ordered the murder.

Pukach was detained on July 21, 2009, in Zhytomyr region as a result of a joint operation of the Security Service of Ukraine and the Prosecutor General's Office.

Security Service deputy head Vasyl Hrytsak said that Pukach confessed to complicity in the murder of independent Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze and named people who had allegedly ordered the crime.

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