IFJ Welcomes Gongadze Convictions But Demands Ukraine Prosecute Those Who Ordered Killing

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today welcomed the recent convictions of three Ukrainian policemen who witnessed the murder of journalist Gyorgy Gongadze but called on authorities to find and prosecute the person or people who ordered his killing.

“These convictions confirm that Gongadze was murdered by agents of the state for his journalism,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “However, the people who ordered Gongadze’s killing are still free. It is now time for the authorities to take action to bring these people to justice.”

On Saturday the court handed down convictions and jail terms of 12 years to two policemen and 13 years to one policeman for their roles in Gongadze’s murder.

In its judgement the court said that the killing had been ordered at the highest level of the ministry of internal affairs and that the motivation was political and related to Gongadze's journalism.

The IFJ is urging the Ukrainian authorities to continue its investigation into this case and bring charges against those who ordered General Olexiy Pukach to kill Gongadze. Pukach, who is wanted by Ukrainian police, is believed to have killed the journalist at the behest of Ukraine’s president at that time, Leonid Kuchma.

In April 2004 a Ukrainian judge, ignoring key facts and pieces of evidence, closed the case against Pukach for destroying documents related to the Gongadze case, helping Pukach, the prime suspect in Gongadze’s murder, to evade justice. Gongadze was kidnapped by four policemen on September 16, 2000. His beheaded body was found later in the woods outside of Kiev.

For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide