Heorhiy Gongadze (AFP)
13 December 2005 -- Ukrainian media say preliminary hearings into the 2000 assassination of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze will open next week in Kyiv.
The UNIAN news agency quoted Andriy Fedur, a lawyer for Gongadze's mother Lesya, as saying the hearings will start on 19 December at Kyiv's Appeals Court.
Ukraine's ForUm information website says the Appeals Court is to determine who among the Supreme Court judges is to conduct the trial.
Three defendants face charges over Gongadze's murder.
Critics blame former President Leonid Kuchma for allegedly orchestrating the killing of Gongadze. whose beheaded body was discovered in a forest near Kiyv. Kuchma has rejected the accusations.
The Melnychenko tapes, some of which were transcribed and published on the Internet, have never been officially recognized as genuine in Ukraine. On the contrary, the former government of President Leonid Kuchma has made many attempts to put their authenticity in doubt and suggest that they were doctored to compromise Kuchma and other top-ranking Ukrainian officials. Which is no surprise -- the Melnychenko tapes suggest that Kuchma might at least have inspired former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko to abduct Georgian-born Heorhiy Gongadze, founder and editor in chief of the "Ukrayinska pravda" muckraking and investigative website in Ukraine, and "drive him out to Georgia" or hand him over to "the Chechens." Here we present translated excerpts from the tapes dealing with the Gongadze case....(more)