Melnychenko, whose tapes implicate Kuchma over Gongadze murder, detained in Italy
News of Mykola Melnychenko’s detention comes just over a month after the High Specialized Court for Civil and Criminal Cases upheld the withdrawal of criminal charges against former President Kuchma over Georgy Gongadze’s murder.
All court instances in Ukraine have now 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 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.
Much was made just over a year ago about the current regime’s willingness to name names and seek justice over the Gongadze case. With the High Specialized Court’s ruling on 26 June 2012 being the cassation level, Georgy Gongadze’s widow believes she has exhausted all domestic remedies and is again applying to the European Court of Human Rights. In 2006 the Court in Strasbourg ordered Ukraine to carry out an investigation and establish the identity of those who ordered the journalist’s murder.
While appeals against the closure of the criminal case against Kuchma were still continuing, the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv on Monday 26 December decided that the decision by the Prosecutor General’s Office back in 2001 to initiate criminal proceedings against former Presidential guard Mykola Melnychenko had been lawful. In so doing it rejected an appeal from Mr Melnychenko’s lawyer, Mykola Nedilko.
From 2001 to 2004 criminal investigations were initiated against Melnychenko on charges of exceeding his authority, divulging state secrets, as well as of creating artificial evidence for the prosecution. In March 2005 the investigations were terminated by Prosecutor General Piskun. In June 2011 Kuchma’s lawyers appealed to the Pechersky District Court against the termination of the criminal investigation. That appeal was allowed, and the criminal investigation against Melnychenko reinstated.
Melnychenko was declared on the wanted list by the SBU [Ukrainian Security Service] in September 2011 and was arrested today at Naples Airport in connection with an extradition request from the Ukrainian Interpol office.
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