International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today hailed as a step to end
impunity in Ukraine the conviction of General Oleksiy Pukach for the murder of Georgy
Gongadze by a court in Kiev on 29 January. The Federation joined its affiliates
in Ukraine and Europe in welcoming the decision which capped a long and hard
campaign waged by journalists and the journalist's family.
more than a decade of tireless pursuit of justice for Gongadze, the conviction
of his killer is good news indeed," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President.
"Unfortunately, the decision feels like partial justice as others involved in
his murder are still being shielded from responsibility."
media reported that the court found General Pukach, a former chief of
surveillance department in the Interior Ministry, guilty of first strangling
and then beheading the journalist before sentencing him to life imprisonment.
The defendant, who confessed to the killing in 2009, told the court the murder
had been ordered by former President Leonid Kuchma, his former chief of staff
Volodymyr Lytvyn and former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko who died in 2005
in suspicious circumstances.
brought charges against Kuchma in 2011 but later dropped them, citing a lack of
evidence. Pukach's trial was held
behind closed doors, restricting access of families to court hearings and
raising suspicions of a cover up.
Gongadze, publisher of the Internet journal Ukrainska
Prawda, was kidnapped on 16 September 2000 and his body found later
beheaded. The journalist had been investigating corruption at senior levels of
the Ukrainian government led by former President Leonid Kuchma. Revelations of
secret tape recordings of Kuchma ordering Interior Ministry' services to kill
Gongadze sparked accusations of his involvement.
spearheaded the journalists' campaign to have his killers face justice and its
European group, the European
Federation of Journalists, has warned
that failure to hold all suspects in Gongadze's murder would delay further the full
establishment of the rule of law in Ukraine. The IFJ/EFJ had previously
protested against holding the trial
behind closed doors fearing it was done to protect senior politicians who had a
role in ordering his murder.
urge the authorities to reconsider their decision not to prosecute other
individuals mentioned by Pukach," added Arne König,
EFJ President. "They should answer for their role in a public and transparent
trial. It is the only way to do justice to Gongadze and allow his family to
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries