Ukraine’s Independent Media Union and Reporters without Borders condemn Kuchma court ruling
Following on the statement issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Ukrainian Independent Media Union and Reporters without Borders have both issued statements condemning the judgement issued on Wednesday by the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv. This found that the criminal proceedings against former President Kuchma over alleged complicity in the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze were unlawful, and found no grounds for charging him.
The Independent Media Union expressed outrage at how the Authorities “cynically used the case of our murdered colleague Georgy Gongadze in their intrigues to achieve far from pure aims”.
The Union points out that the criminal investigation had been intiated when all interested parties and members of the public were aware how the recordings on Melnychenko’s tapes had been obtained. Yet the Prosecutor General had initiated the proceedings, presumably because “somebody in the offices of power found that convenient”, but then it became more convenient to stop the investigation and a command to terminate it was sent to the court”.
“We believe that the investigation into the Gongadze case should continue. The court is obliged to consider this issue on its merits and not reject it on formal grounds”.
Reported by Telekritika
Reporters Without Borders roundly condemns a decision by Kiev’s Pechersky district court on 13 December to dismiss charges against former president Leonid Kuchma in connection with the murder of investigative journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000.
In line with a ruling by the country’s highest appeal court in October (see below), the Pechersky court dismissed the case against Kuchma on the grounds that the evidence – tape recordings made secretly by his bodyguard, Mykola Melnychenko – was obtained illegally and therefore could not be used against him.
“It is very regrettable that Kuchma is getting off on a legal technicality without the evidence against him being the subject of a full hearing, ” Reporters Without Borders said. “This outcome leaves all the questions unanswered and does absolutely nothing to help establish the truth about Gongadze’s murder.
“The investigation will not advance by sweeping aside the recordings that have always been at the centre of this case. After the many other irregularities that have marked this case from the outset, this ruling is one more reason for seriously questioning the impartiality of Ukrainian justice.”
Valentyna Telichenko, the lawyer who represents Gongadze’s widow, said she would appeal against the 13 December decision. The prosecutor-general’s office is also planning to appeal, spokesman Yuri Boychenko said. Reporters Without Borders urges the courts that examine these appeals to overturn the Pechersky court’s ruling and to reinstate the Melnychenko recordings as prosecution evidence.
The trial of Gen. Oleksiy Pukach, a senior intelligence officer who allegedly confessed to carry out the Gongadze murder on orders from a superior, is meanwhile continuing behind closed doors.