war crimes in Ukraine

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Gongadze’s Widow will appeal against quashed Kuchma prosecution


Lawyers representing Myroslava Gongadze will be appealing against the ruling by the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv on Wednesday which effectively stopped any prosecution of former President Kuchma on complicity in her husband’s murder.  The court allowed the appeal by Kuchma’s lawyers against the initiating of criminal proceedings.

As reported, the court found that the only grounds for the decision by First Deputy Prosecutor General Rinat Kuzmin to initiate criminal proceedings were the tapes made by Mykola Melnychenko. It cited the Constitutional Court judgement from October 2011.  This judgement stated that prosecution could not be based on information received through investigative operations carried out by people unauthorized to do so.  Major Melnychenko acted on his own initiative when he illicitly taped conversations between Kuchma and others.

Valentina Telychenko, Ms Gongadze’s lawyer, believes the decision by the Pechersky District Court to be unlawful. She says that even without Melnychenko’s tapes there are enough grounds to ininitiate criminal proceedings against the former President.  She asserts that by determining that Kuchma is no longer the accused, the judge made an assessment of the evidence which she was not entitled to do at that stage of the court examination. “The judge was also not objective in her approach to the information which formed the basis of the criminal case. She did not notice the evidence which it was inconvenient to notice. The testimony of other witnesses, just as the Melnychenko tapes, she evaluated and decided to consider as not containing any evidence of elements of criminal behaviour by the former President.”

Ms Telychenko however admits that does not hold out great hopes for an appeal being successful. They will then try cassation level appeal, but again with few illusions.

The Prosecutor General’s Office announced on Wednesday that it did not agree with the ruling and that it believed it had sufficient grounds to initiate proceedings.  Holos Ameryki states that they are not saying whether they will also lodge an appeal.

From a report at the VoA Ukrainian Service

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