war crimes in Ukraine

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Sentence on Gongadze killer Pukach appealed

Myroslava Gongadze’s appeal asserts that the pre-trial and court examinations were incomplete and failed to fully establish the motives for the killing. Pukach said in his final words that Kuchma and Lytvyn should have been on trial with him, but that the court hadn’t wanted to hear the truth

GeorgyGongadze was murdered in September 2000. 

Valentina Telychenko, the lawyer representing the widow of murdered journalist Georgy Gongadze, has lodged an appeal against the life sentence passed on former Police General Oleksy Pukach for his role in the killing.

The life sentence passed on 29 January by the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv is the highest possible sentence in Ukraine, but Myroslava Gongadze and her lawyer consider that both the pre-trial and court investigations were not carried out fully, and that there are serious omissions in the sentence on Pukach.

Ms Telychenko explained to Interfax Ukraine that the appeal pertains only to establishing the motives for the crime which they assert has not been done in full.  She believes that the court did determine the circumstances of the crime and pass the appropriate sentence.

She informs that Oleksy Podolsky, who also has victim status in this case, has also appealed against the verdict. He asserts that Pukach did not just apply force against him, but tortured him and that the court had not noted this in its verdict.

Ms Telychenko believes the appeal will be considered in 2 or 3 months.

As reported, the sentence was passed after an extremely long trial held entirely behind closed doors despite protest within Ukraine and abroad.

The investigators had found (controversially) that Pukach carried out the murder on instructions from Yury Kravchenko, the then Interior Minister who is officially recorded as having committed suicide (with two gunshot wounds to the head) in early 2005.

In his final words to the court, Pukach said that former President Leonid Kuchma and then Head of the President’s Administration, later Parliamentary Speaker and now MP, Volodymyr Lytvyn should have been on trial with him. He said that he had tried to tell all the truth, but that nobody had wanted to hear.

At the time, Ms Telychenko made the following comment to Ukrainska Pravda:

“Thank God that phrase was not just heard by me, but by journalists. In fact  in his pre-trial and court testimony, Pukach repeatedly spoke of Kuchma and Lytvyn, about where and when he met with Lytvyn, however that wasn’t used in the investigation into who ordered the murder”/ 

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