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Ukraine14 September 2007

Political will lacking to solve Gongadze murder seven years after his death

Reporters Without Borders today charged there was a lack of political will to solve the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze as the 7th anniversary of his death approached.

The trial of the alleged killers of the 31-year-old online editor was constantly being adjourned and since its opening it had been littered with obstacles, the worldwide press freedom organisation said, ahead of the anniversary on 16 September 2007.

There had been “constant delays, attempts to close the trial to the press and the public, difficulties in proceeding against politicians implicated in this killing, particularly in the recordings made by Mykola Melnitchenko, former officer of the presidential guard, and so on”.

“These failures had led the journalist’s mother, Lessiya Gongadze, to slam the trial as a ’sham’ and to withdraw from it,” said Reporters Without Borders. “We cannot but state that there is a lack of political will in this case”.

Gongadze, a political journalist, wrote about corruption, implicating political figures in the government of President Leonid Kuchma, and campaigned actively for greater press freedom in Ukraine. In April 2000, he founded Ukrainskaya Pravda, of which he was the editor.

He was abducted in the evening of 16 September 2000 and on 2 November 2000, a decapitated body and a head - declared by experts to be those of the journalist - were found in a forest in the Taraschansky region near the capital Kiev.

On 24 July 2007, the prosecutor’s office ordered new medical reports on Valery Kostenko, Mykola Protassov and Oleksandr Popovitch, three police officers accused of having killed the journalist. Each of the accused will have to undergo a psychological and psychiatric test. The trial, which opened in January 2006, will only resume after these tests have been carried out.

  In this country
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
15 March - Ukraine
Three former policemen convicted of Gongadze murder but instigators have yet to identified
12 February - Ukraine
Gongadze murder trial resumes in Kiev
27 August - Ukraine
Bomb hoax against Russian-language daily, photographer attacked
6 October - Ukraine
Witnesses give contradictory views about motives for Gongadze murder

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