17:36 28.07.2009

Source: Fragment of Gongadze's skull found

Police have found a fragment of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze's skull at a site in Bila Tserkva district, Kyiv region, after being given information by the ex-head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's foreign surveillance department, Oleksiy Pukach, a well-informed source in law enforcement agencies has told Interfax-Ukraine.

The source said that at the site where the fragment was found, a "road has already been built over the period [since Gongadze's death]."

An investigative group and experts are currently working at the scene. Interfax-Ukraine has been unable to get official confirmation of the source's information.

As reported, journalist Georgy Gongadze went missing in Kyiv on September 16, 2000. In November 2000, a decapitated body believed, according to experts, to be that of the journalist, was found in a forest in Kyiv region.

The body has yet to be interred, as the journalist's mother, Lesia Gongadze, refuses to bury her son without his head.

In 2008, three former officials of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's foreign surveillance department and criminal intelligence unit - colonels Valeriy Kostenko, Mykola Protasov, and major Oleksandr Popovych, were found guilty of killing the journalist and sentenced to 12 (Kostenko and Popovych) and 13 (Protasov) years in prison.

The former chief of the main criminal investigation department at the ministry's foreign surveillance unit, Oleksiy Pukach, was long on the wanted list, and arrested in Zhytomyr region on July 21, 2009, as a result of a joint operation by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the Prosecutor General's Office. However, it remains unclear who ordered the murder.

On July 23, Kyiv's Pechersky district court decided to remand Pukach in custody for two months.

SBU Deputy Head Vasyl Hrytsak said earlier that Pukach had confessed to complicity in the murder of the journalist, named people who had allegedly ordered the crime, and pointed to the whereabouts of the journalist's head. However, his lawyer said that Pukach had not provided this testimony.

The Prosecutor General's Office accused Pukach of being involved in the journalist's murder. Prosecutor General Oleksandr Medvedko refused to comment whether Pukach named those who ordered the murder or not, saying a "secret investigation" was underway.

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