war crimes in Ukraine

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Myroslava Gongadze: “The Public should understand what criminals governed the country”

02.09.2011    source:
The widow of murdered journalist Georgy Gongadze says that she will as a matter of principle be applying to the European Court of Human Rights over the fact that the trial of Oleksy Pukach is taking place behind closed doors


For the last two days the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv has been hearing the testimony of the former MIA General and Head of the Department of Intelligence and Foreign Surveillance, Oleksy Pukach who is on trial over the murder of Georgy Gongadze.  The trial has now (again) been adjourned, this time until 3 October.

As reported here, the hearings are closed to the public and the press. On Wednesday, the lawyer representing Myroslava Gongadze, Valentina Telychenko told Radio Svoboda that she personally does not trust part of Pukach’s testimony, saying that he doesn’t balk at absolute lies, and stressed that his testimony needed to be compared both against that of others and against documents.

In an interview to RS, Georgy Gongadze’s widow Myroslava said she saw nothing new in Pukach’s statements in court. He had in fact only confirmed the testimony which he gave during the investigation. “He mentioned Kuchma, Lytvyn, Kravchenko, Dzhyga [the First Deputy Head of the MIA] before. It was on the basis of that testimony that the criminal proceedings against President Kuchma were initiated”.

She says that unfortunately the Prosecutor General’s Office has not gone further and not initiated proceedings against other officials named by former General Pukach.

Myroslava is insisting that this trial should be open because a closed trial does not make it possible either for Georgy’s family, or for the public to know the whole truth about what happened 10 years ago in the forest near Kyiv and who was in fact behind the murder.

“The public must know about this and Constitution gives the victims in the case rights, guarantees open court proceedings. I will on principle apply to the European Court of Human Rights to insist that this trial be open and will seek judgment that the Ukrainian court violated my rights as victim in this trial.”

Ms Gongadze says that there are several crucial points at present. “It is first of all clear that neither Pukach, nor Kravchenko (the former Minister of Internal Affairs] had any personal motives for killing Georgy and were carrying out an order. And who, if not the country’s leaders, or the Security Service can give an order to Minister of Internal Affairs generals? Obviously Pukach’s testimony needs to be checked. And Kuchma, Lytvyn Dzyga, they are all still at liberty, still alive, and they should testify in a trial, specifically in these court proceedings. General Pukach is not showing repentance and is trying to convince the court that he acted rightly, by killing Georgy. Pukach should definitely be sentenced to life imprisonment. However what is vital in this trial is not so much proof of Pukach’s guilt as identifying and holding to answer those who directly ordered Georgy’s killing.”

Asked about the claim by Kuchma’s lawyer that Pukach is slandering the former President, Myroslava Gongadze says that she hopes that both Kuchma and his lawyer will come to the court. If they think it’s slander, let them provide evidence. Any statement obviously needs to be backed up by evidence.  “And Lytvyn should also testify in court, and Kuchma should be there, all three should give testimony and look each other in the eye. And the public should see this - the public should understand what criminals governed our country”.

Asked if she hopes this will happen, she said only that it should if one was dealing with a fair trial.

Although the case has indeed gone on for 10 years, there has nonetheless been some progress and if it hasn’t stopped, then they must continue.  “Perhaps we will in the end get to the truth”.

Slightly abridged from the original here

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