15:09 17.02.2015

Ukraine's PGO resumes pre-trial investigation into Gongadze murder

2 min read
Ukraine's PGO resumes pre-trial investigation into Gongadze murder

Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Shokin has set up an investigation team and a group of prosecutors and resumed the pre-trial investigation into the premeditated murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze.

"Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Shokin has set up an investigation team and a group of prosecutors and renewed the pre-trial investigation into the organization of the premeditated murder of Georgy Gongadze carried out in preliminary arrangement by a group of persons, as well as the investigation of the fact of abuse of power and official authority by persons who held positions of responsibility, which led to grave consequences," the press service of Prosecutor General's Office reported on Tuesday.

The two groups are led by the Ukrainian prosecution officials who were part of a team that has been investigating the murder since 2002.

The newly formed groups will report directly to the prosecutor general.

Journalist Gongadze disappeared on September 16, 2000. Forensic experts said a headless corpse found in a forest near Kyiv in November that year might be Gongadze's body and that cranium fragments found in the Kyiv region in 2009 were definitely parts of his skull.

However, the body remains unburied as Gongadze's mother refuses to recognize it as her son's remains.

Ex-Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma was charged by the Prosecutor General's Office on March 21, 2011, of abusing power that led to Gongadze's murder, but the Pechersky Court dropped the charges on December 13, 2011, refusing to accept former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko's audiotapes as evidence.

Kuchma denies his complicity in Gongadze's murder.

On January 29, 2013, the Pechersky Court found Oleksiy Pukach, former head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's outdoor surveillance department, guilty of killing Gongadze and sentenced him to life in prison. Pukach was stripped of his rank as lieutenant-general.

The Kyiv Court of Appeals has received appeals from both sides against the verdict by the Pechersky Court. There was no hearing yet, and the verdict has yet to come into effect.

In December 2014, the Prosecutor General's Office called for a public hearing of the appeal against the Pukach verdict. Ukraine's Security Service, too, sought to declassify court hearings involving Pukach who was convicted of Gongadze's murder.

On February the Kyiv Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a public hearing of appeals against the Pukach verdict.

Shokin was appointed as Ukraine's Prosecutor General a week ago.

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