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• Topics / The right to a fair trial
Myroslava Gongadze: “A Country that launders criminals”
The widow of murdered journalist Georgy Gongadze has slammed the ruling of the Kyiv Court of Appeal on 20 January 2012 upholding the Pechersky District Court’s ruling of 14 December 2011. The latter quashed the criminal proceedings against former Presidentt Kuchma in connection with Georgy Gongadze’s murder. The court had cited a Constitutional Court judgement from October 2011which stated that prosecutions 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.
In an interview for Ukrainsky Tyzhden, Myroslava Gongadze said: “The ruling of the Kyiv Court of Appeal is yet another confirmation of the lack of a justice system in Ukraine. Instead of a law-based state, contemporary Ukraine has turned into a country where criminals are laundered. President Kuchma’s lawyers and their client claim to be interested in uncovering the truth in the Gongadze case, but are in fact opposing the course of justice. They are using formal grounds to get the case brought against Kuchma declared unlawful. As victims, we will definitely appeal against the court ruling at cassation level, and if our demands are not met, at the European Court of Human Rights.”
She pointed out that Georgy’s family had been struggling for over 10 years to establish all the circumstances of his death and ensure that those who carried out and ordered his murder were punished. “I will continue to uphold our rights and Georgy’s honour until the case is fully solved”.
She stressed that this was vital not only for Georgy’s family, friends and the journalist community, but to clean up Ukraine’s political realm where “every second politician or government official is implicated to varying degrees in crimes or corruption.”
In December 2011 the Committee to Protect Journalists was one of a number of organizations which condemned the ruling and issued the following statement:
The Committee to Protect Journalists.has called the 14 December “court ruling to scrap the case against former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma for allegedly ordering the 2000 murder of independent journalist Georgy Gongadze a blow to press freedom"
Justice will not prevail until President Kuchma is held accountable, in a court of law, for allegedly ordering Gongadze’s slaying, " CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "Gongadze’s family, the people of Ukraine, and the international community have been waiting for eleven years."
Kuchma was indicted in March on abuse-of-office charges. This indictment was based on secretly taped conversations between Kuchma and close aides. Ukraine’s Constitutional Court ruled in October that evidence obtained through illegal means could not be used as basis for indictments, thus shielding the former president from prosecution.