IFJ/EFJ welcome conviction of Gongadze’s killer in Ukraine

The

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. 

"After

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."

Ukraine

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.

Prosecutors

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. 

Georgy

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. 

The IFJ

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. 

"We 

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

move on."


For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries